Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Underclassmen take on leadership roles at UNC

CHAPEL HILL — On many college football teams, the seniors take on the biggest leadership roles. After all, they've been there the longest, paid their dues, usually played the most.

But with only 11 seniors on North Carolina's squad this season, the underclassmen are taking on a louder voice at practice, in the locker room and in the classroom. And offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds, one of those rare Tar Heel seniors, says that's a good thing.

"It's great, because it's giving the younger guys a chance to step up,'' Reynolds said. "... We had a team meeting last year, just the players, and that's one thing we stood up and said: 'Hey, it's not the seniors' team, it's not just their turn to speak. You don't even have to play. If you see somebody skipping a rep or goofing out in class, yell at them. Call them out.' And it's definitely been great to see younger guys stepping up and doing that stuff."

And important, too. Reynolds said that when he was a freshman, North Carolina had a fairly large senior class, so he didn't really talk a lot.

"I just practiced and stayed in my playbook,'' he said. "I didn't really speak up verbally or anything like that; I figured that was someone else's spot. And when you do that, it takes guys longer to learn those leadership roles and skills.

"When guys can step up their freshman year and say, 'Hey, you weren't going full speed on that rep; what's up with that?' and actually call someone out and be confident that the older guys are going to back them up and be in support of that ... they're going to gain some confidence, and know that's how things should be run, and learn how to lead."

So that by the time they are seniors — no matter how large their graduating class — they are helping mold new, younger leaders, too.

-Robbi Pickeral (Raleigh News & Observer)


Anonymous said...

UNC has a football team, who knew?

Anonymous said...

You must be confused. It said UNC not Duke. They are the ones that do not claim their football team. You are welcome for bringing you up to speed. And please do not tell me you are a state fan that would just be too much.