North Carolina's defensive line took the biggest hit during the NCAA investigation in the 2010 football season and it remains in a state of flux in the offseason.
Freshman defensive tackle Delvon Simmons has asked to leave the program while former defensive tackle Brandon Willis could possibly return.
Simmons, a five-star recruit from McKeesport, Pa. and the coup of this year's nationally-ranked signing class, has asked to be released from his Letter of Intent, his high school coach said Wednesday.
It's the latest roster turnover for a unit that lost Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin and Michael McAdoo for entire '10 season because of the NCAA investigation for improper agent benefits and academic misconduct.
McKeesport coach Jim Ward said Simmons, ranked as the 15th-best prospect in the country by Scout.com, said the 6-5, 265-pound defensive tackle asked for a release from his Letter of Intent almost a month ago.
A UNC spokesman said Wednesday the school has not received Simmons' official request.
"That's not accurate," Ward said. "Technically he asked for his release three and a half weeks ago."
Ward declined to comment if Simmons' decision is based on the changes of UNC's coaching staff. Defensive line coach Brian Baker worked at UNC for four weeks from the end of the NFL season in early January to Feb. 8 before leaving the program to take an assistant's job with the Dallas Cowboys.
UNC hired Joe Robinson, the fourth defensive line since September, on Feb. 25 to replace Baker.
The defensive front, which returns All-ACC tackle Quinton Coples and standout tackle Tydreke Powell, could get a boost from Willis.
Willis, a prep All-American in 2009 from Duncan, S.C., enrolled at UNC last January and then decided to transfer to UCLA in August, before the '10 season started.
Willis sat out the season as a redshirt at UCLA but decided to transfer and has been given a release by the Bruins.
Willis' dad, Carl, said his mother is sick and he would like to have his family near her in Burlington.
"That's what we're working on," Carl Willis said Wednesday. "I hope it goes according to plan."
Under NCAA rules, Willis would have to receive a waiver to be eligible this season. If he doesn't get the waiver, he would have to sit out this season and would have three years of eligibility.
UNC's spring practice opens March 16. The school is still waiting for a ruling from the NCAA on the twin investigations which costs them 14 players for at least one game in '10 and seven players for the entire season.
David Scott has been with the Observer for 28 years and has written about ACC, SEC and other college sports in the Charlotte region. He covers Wake Forest, South Carolina and college soccer for the Observer and (Raleigh) News & Observer.
J.P. Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997, and the Observer.
Andrew Carter covers the North Carolina Tar Heels for the Observer and News & Observer.
Laura Keeley covers the Duke Blue Devils for the Observer and News & Observer. Follow her on Twitter.
Chip Alexander covers the Carolina Hurricanes and college football for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1979, and the Observer.
Luke DeCock has worked for The News & Observer since 2000. He covered the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a sports columnist for the Observer and News & Observer in August 2008.