After years of battling the NCAA (and winning), North Carolina are now hoping for some clemency from the oft-ridiculed organization. This past spring, Antonio Williams announced he was transferring from the Ohio State to UNC. Transfers typically have to sit out a year before they can take the field, but as Jonathan M. Alexander wrote yesterday, the Heels are requesting a hardship waiver. If the NCAA, who have been under consistent scrutiny for their transfer policies, decides to grant the waiver Williams would immediately be eligible to play this fall.
Williams, a native of New London, NC and a product of North Stanly High School, was the #7 overall running back in the 2016 class. After redshirting in the fall of the 2016 season, he saw limited action in 12 games for Ohio State in 2017. While he only tallied 57 carries, he managed 290 yards and three touchdowns. That 5.08 YPC average would have been second among primary UNC running backs last year.
Last season, Michael Carter was the only running back to average more yards per carry. Carter finished the season with 558 yards on 97 carries, and eight touchdowns, but those totals are misleading. The majority of those numbers came against California, Virginia, and Western Carolina where he gained 354 yards and scored five touchdowns on 40 carries (an 8.85 YPC clip). That leaves 204 yards and 3 touchdowns in his other 8 games on 57 carries for a more pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry. Carter has the tools to be very good, but he is still young and could use some experienced talent like Williams in the backfield.
With an unknown number of players facing possible early-season suspensions, the Heels need some good news. This could be more than that; it could potentially be a season-changing decision for the program. Should his eligibility be granted, Williams near-inarguably becomes the most talented running back on UNC’s active roster. Our own Chad Floyd provided this in-depth breakdown of what the former Buckeye brings to Chapel Hill.
Fedora did not explain why UNC applied for the waiver.