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April 8, 2010

Fans can score

For years many people have said they want Carolina to have a big-time football program.

Saturday is the day to pony up and do your part. There are quite a few players who turned down the opportunity to move to the National Football League and collect a check for putting their bodies on the line in hopes of leaving Carolina with an elite program once again. The university has hired a top-notch head coach in Butch Davis, and he has assembled a fine group of coaches and infused the program with so much more talent in his brief tenure that it's ridiculous.

These kids work all year long for the chance to play 12 regular-season games, and on Saturday they will get to perform on national television in the spring game. All any of these folks are asking of the fans is to come sit in the sunshine and watch them play.

Is that really too much to ask? I think not.

If you consider yourself a Carolina fan and you want big-time football, here is your chance to help. The more people in Kenan Stadium on Saturday, the better it will look on ESPN. And the better it looks on ESPN, the greater the impression it will make on big, fast high-school football players who Davis and his staff are trying to sign to play at UNC.

For anyone who does not have to work or doesn't have a vacation already planned, there isn't much of a reason not to come to Chapel Hill and watch the game. The weather is going to be ideal. The heat from earlier in the week will have cooled enough for it to be pleasant, and this is going to be a great chance to see some exciting football players as they show their skills before moving on to perform summer workouts.

The game will be played from 3 to 5 p.m.

Fans so often complain about college athletes leaving early for professional paychecks (as if they would not do the same thing, given the opportunity), but these guys stayed. Kendric Burney, Deunta Williams, Marvin Austin, (wide receiver) Greg Little and others may not have all gone in the first round, but most of the kids eligible to leave would probably have made a roster and gotten started on their professional careers.

Instead, linebackers Quan Sturdivant, Bruce Carter and all the others have come back in hopes of propelling Carolina to an elite status as seniors.

Come see Dwight Jones. After a couple of mediocre years, sources close to the program say Jones has become a different person and player at wide receiver. He could become a true game-breaker this fall with his size (6 feet 5) and excellent speed.

See redshirt freshman quarterback Bryn Renner and make your own judgment on how much talent this young quarterback has. Pay attention to freshman high-school All-American offensive tackle James Hurst try to block All-America candidate Robert Quinn at defensive end.

Johnny White, a highly recruited running back out of high school in Asheville, has returned to the backfield and has supposedly become the runner so many people expected him to be when he signed. This will be an opportunity to watch him get his chance.

If you're thinking this is going to be a dull because it will be limited, forget it. With the television cameras beaming this game to the country, the last thing Davis is going to want is for his team to look dull. Saturday is about making a showing before the nation, and getting some additional attention as the coaching staff tries to gain more oral commitments from recruits at Carolina's summer camp.

A big crowd on Saturday would do a lot more than just show recruits something positive. It would pump the kids on the field with a true sense of excitement as they move into summer workouts and then summer camp in anticipation for the opening game against LSU at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

We all want to feel appreciated, and these kids are no different. Athletes at Carolina have to attend class and be real students. They lift weights, run and undergo countless hours in the film room preparing their minds for what they will see on Saturdays.

Why not reward them in the simplest way by coming to the spring game and cheering?

There really is no reason for a stadium full of Tar Heel fans not to come on Saturday, support the team and enjoy a great afternoon under a Carolina blue sky.


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