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March 28, 2009

Quarterbacks star in spring showcase

Chapel Hill, N.C. ----- North Carolina's trio of quarterbacks - T.J. Yates, Mike Paulus and Braden Hanson - combined to complete 23 of 30 attempts for 202 yards and a touchdown in Carolina's Spring Showcase Saturday afternoon at Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels' 68-play scrimmage was highlighted by a 46-yard completion from Yates to sophomore Dwight Jones at the 1-yard line.

"We probably couldn't have asked for (today) to go much better," said head coach Butch Davis. "Scrimmages in the spring are great chances for your football team to learn. They'll learn more today than they probably have learned in the last five to six practices because the training wheels come off. There's no coaches in the huddle, there's no one whispering in their ear. You get a chance to see what they actually know and how they can go out there and play. We'll learn a lot about these kids. The most important thing is that we improved as a football team."

Freshman Joshua Adams, who enrolled at Carolina in January, started with the second-team offense and caught three passes for 20 yards. Adams, Jones and running back Jamal Womble each had three receptions to lead the team.

Tight end Ed Barham also had two receptions for 35 yards. A total of 12 different players recorded at least one catch.

"We are going to have to press this receiving corps the rest of this spring, and all throughout training camp to make sure they can come in there and make critical catches that are going to keep drives alive or score touchdowns," said Davis. "We kind of got spoiled the last two years with three kids that we played with."

Yates started with the first-team and completed 5 of 8 for 96 yards, but the bulk of the pass attempts came from Paulus, a sophomore from Syracuse, N.Y, and Hanson, a redshirt freshman from Charlotte.

Paulus was 12 of 15 for 51 yards, while Hanson was 6 of 7 for 55 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman Todd Harrelson on the scrimmage's final play.

Redshirt freshman Jamal Womble led all rushers with 50 yards on seven carries, including a long of 17 yards. The Sierra Vista, Ariz., native ran hard, showed good balance and was tough for Carolina's defense to bring down

"We were looking eagerly as to the quality of level Jamal Womble could bring depth to the running back position," said Davis, who would like to play three running backs this season. "He ran very physical. He's got the ability to make some people miss in the hole, which we saw today, and he can catch the ball. That part of it was very encouraging."

Juniors Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston played with the first-team throughout most of the scrimmage. Draughn had eight yards, while Houston rushed for 16 before leaving with a minor cut on his leg. He cut his leg after being tackled into the metal bleacher on the UNC sideline. He did not return, but the injury is not considered serious.

The offensive line played as many as 10-15 players Saturday with Mike Ingersoll, Alan Pelc, Lowell Dyer, Jonathan Cooper and Kyle Jolly starting with the first-team. Carl Gaskins, Kevin Bryant, Mike Dykes, Greg Elleby and Cam Holland also saw significant playing time.

Defensively, sophomore Herman Davidson led the team with six tackles. Davidson, a native of Long Beach, Calif., moved from safety to linebacker this spring and began the day at outside linebacker on the second-team defense.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Dion Guy posted four tackles, as did senior linebacker Kennedy Tinsley. Senior defensive end E.J. Wilson posted two sacks, while sophomore Quinton Coples added another.

Kendric Burney did not play today due to a strained hamstring and was replaced by sophomore LeCount Fantroy.

Charles Brown earned the start at the other corner position, while Da'Norris Searcy and Melvin Williams started at safety. The only other first-time starter on defense was Zach Brown at outside linebacker.

Carolina has four remaining practices this spring and will complete its spring workouts on Saturday, April 4.


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