To say that Carolina football has been getting a lot more attention this summer than they have in a long time is quite the understatement. So far Sam Howell has been named as a preseason All-American, and oddsmakers have given the Heels the best odds to win the ACC Coastal. Things certainly haven’t stopped there either, as yesterday a couple of new announcements were made in the college football universe.
Let’s start with some more All-American news. Yesterday, Carolina Football’s Twitter handle announced that Ray Vohasek, Sam Howell, and Joshua Ezeundu all made Phil Steele’s preseason All-American teams.
Vohasek and Ezeundu both made it to the third team All-American squad, while Sam Howell made it to the second team. Vohasek well be setting foot onto the field as a senior defensive lineman that is part of a group that hopes to take some important steps forward this season. During his junior season he had 29 tackles, seven tackles for loss (tied for a team high), and 3.5 sacks.
Joshua Ezeundu is a junior offensive lineman that is returning with the entire offensive line from last season. The entire group allowed 33 sacks last season, and the hope is that the number of sacks allowed can continue improving, all while helping the new group of running backs find success in the ground game.
Finally, by now we all know what Sam Howell has been able to do, but it’s worth discussing again. Howell completed 68.1% of his passes last season for 3,586 yards, 30 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He is sure to be a Heisman candidate all season long, and he will almost certainly make his way to the NFL Draft next spring as one of the best quarterbacks in the draft.
Speaking of one of the best, the other bit of news that released yesterday is that Athlon Sports has UNC as the 10th best team in the country in their preseason rankings. The Heels are the second-highest ranked ACC team on the list, and the highest ranked Coastal Division team.
Here is what they had to say about Carolina’s ranking:
The Tar Heels have made significant strides in just two years under coach Mack Brown. With quarterback Sam Howell returning, this program should take another step forward this fall, as North Carolina is Athlon’s pick to win the Coastal Division in 2021.
When discussing strengths and weaknesses, the only knock against the team was that they need to find a way to limit big plays in 2021. The good news is that Mack Brown is bringing in a strong 2021 class, and that Storm Duck should be healthy and ready to go this season. He and Tony Grimes should make for a dangerous defensive back duo, and should the front seven be able to find ways to create more chaos for offenses, I think we may finally see a team that is ready to compete for the ACC title. Of course the major question isn’t whether or not they can win the Coastal, but it is whether or not they can take down the seemingly unstoppable Clemson Tigers in the ACC championship game. They easily have the best shot of doing so, but we will see if they can complete the first step and punch their ticket to Charlotte.
I think it’s fair to say that Carolina football has been a lot of fun ever since Mack Brown returned to campus, and to have some very real, tangible hype built around the team makes it even better. What do you think of these preseason rankings and awards? Let us know in the comments below. Also if you have time, check out Max Sloan’s awesome love letter to Kenan Stadium that was published yesterday.
Stay safe, be kind to one another, and Go Heels!