Saturday, August 2, 2008

UNC looking for special players on special teams

While there will be plenty of folks watching the kicking contest to replace Connor Barth during UNC's training camp, two other key position battles resumed on special teams during the Tar Heels' second day of practice on Saturday: at deep snapper and holder.
With Michael Murphy (last year's deep snapper on extra points and field goals) and Ryan Baucom (holder, and deep snapper on punts) both gone, Tar Heel coaches must find new players to fill the underappreciated positions.
"I think a lot of people think they can kick and hold and snap, do the things that we do -- and they probably could, but it's a tough job, and there's a lot of pressure,'' said punter Terrence Brown. "And it's definitely something you have to work at -- and put time in ... especially to perfect the snap."
Brown worked all summer on long snaps with Trevor Stuart, a sophomore from Sugar Land, Texas. Nolan Fry, a freshman walk-on from Raleigh, joined in during second summer session. And Mark House, a walk-on from Wilmington, was working out with the special teams snappers on Saturday.
Brown and Trase Jones, a walk-on kicker/punter, were holding for field goals and extra points during the early part of Saturday's practice.
As for the place-kicking battle, Brown said he has been impressed by all of those competing, including redshirt freshman Jay Wooten (who he lived with over the summer) and walk-on Casey Barth, Connor's younger brother (who he is rooming with during training camp).
"Everyone has the physical ability to kick, it's whether or not that have that mental toughness to be able to kick in front of 65, 75 thousand people,'' Brown said. "...It's the mental aspect that's going to be big, and we're going to find out in camp who can do it."