Best North Carolina Offensive Player
WR/KR Anthony Ratliff-Williams, Jr.
One of the bright spots in a down year for the offense, the 6-1, 205-pounder led the team with 35 catches for 630 yards and six scores, hitting Duke and NC State for over 100 yards and growing into the No. 1 role late in the season.
Physical as well as quick, he’s built a bit like a running back with the quickness to cut on a dime as a difference-making kick returner, too. He averaged over 26 yards per return with kick-sixes against both Louisville and Pitt.
2. RB Jordon Brown, Jr.
3. RB Michael Carter, Soph.
4. TE Brandon Fritts, Sr.
5. QB Chazz Surratt, Soph.
Best North Carolina Defensive Player
DE Malik Carney, Sr.
The hybrid outside linebacker and defensive end has been one of the few disruptive playmakers and pass rushers over the last two seasons. He broke through with 5.5 sacks as a sophomore, and came up with another 5.5 to lead the team last year with 12 tackles for loss. The most active UNC defensive linemen, he finished fourth on the team in tackles.
2. LB Cole Holcomb, Sr.
3. S Myles Dorn, Jr.
4. DE Tamon Fox, Soph.
5. S J.K Britt, Sr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Chazz Surratt, Soph.
Or Nathan Elliott, or even true freshman Jace Ruder. The offensive line has to find a few stars – or, at least, a few steady producers – and the defense needs a couple of all-stars to start making that side of the ball better, but as long as one strong quarterback emerges, the season will be a whole lot better.
Compared to transfer Brandon Harris, Surratt and Elliott were good when they had their chances. Surratt was inconsistent as a true freshman, but he showed off the upside to potentially be the franchise quarterback the program had with Mitch Trubisky and Marquise Williams.
Or Elliott has to take the reins, after taking over in November after Surratt was banged up. As long as the quarterback play is steady, and a leader emerges, the Tar Heel offense should bounce back.
Key Game To The North Carolina Season
at California, Sept. 1
There might be a few huge ACC games to deal with, and UCF is a more interesting non-conference battle, but the Tar Heels have to get off to a hot start. Last year, the opening weekend loss to Cal in Chapel Hill was the uh-oh moment – it was going to be a long year. Win in Berkeley, and it’ll be the chance for UNC to change the narrative.
2017 North Carolina Fun Stats
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 17-of-24 (71%) – UNC 13-of-21 (62%)
– Penalties: UNC 93 for 872 yards – Opponents 64 for 577 yards
– Time of Possession: Opponents 33:27 – UNC 26:33