North Carolina Tar Heels: Trubisky Did Not Come ‘Out of Nowhere’

Dec 30, 2016; El Paso, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) throws the ball against the Stanford Cardinal defense at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2016; El Paso, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) throws the ball against the Stanford Cardinal defense at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports /

North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky has a story, but it runs a little different to the one being told.

The NFL Draft is just about a week away and North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky is looking to be the first signal caller taken. Trubisky’s story is being oddly heralded as a sort of underdog tale, the story of the bench warmer who made good in his one starting season with the Heels. That is not the actual story. The real story is a tale not dissimilar from the one told just down the road in Raleigh about their most famous quarterback duo.

The first myth about Trubisky is that he was somehow overlooked. Not true. Trubisky came onto the North Carolina campus as the first serious quarterback prospect of the Larry Fedora era. Fedora had planned for Trubisky to redshirt during Bryn Renner’s final season and then take the reins immediately as a redshirt freshman. Trubisky was the anointed one.

The hitch in that plan was twofold. One, Renner got hurt. Instead of burning Trubisky’s redshirt and throwing him out there, Fedora decided to do the safe thing for Trubisky’s long term development and continue to let him sit safely on the sidelines. Holdover sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams was thrown to the wolves instead.

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No one really expected Williams to do much. He was a remaining Butch Davis recruit, presumably brought in to run a pro-style system (though he was a spread QB in high school). He also had never really thrown the ball in his appearances. To make the situation stranger, Williams had not been enrolled in the spring and that allowed Trubisky to temporarily be the number two quarterback.

Williams proceeded to lead the team to six wins in their final seven games including a win over Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. He had the hot hand. He was a local guy. The best linemen were gone meaning the line would be weaker the next year. Williams had done what he could to win the starter’s job. They let him have it, with caveats.

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  • Williams may have won a battlefield promotion, but the staff was still sold on Trubisky as the future. The kept looking for excuses to stick him into games over the next two seasons. It prevented Williams from playing with confidence. One, he knew he might have a short hook. Two, the team’s platoon system early in the 2015 season prevented Williams from getting any kind of rhythm.

    Williams was experiencing something similar to what Russell Wilson had gone through at state. When Tom O’Brien got the State job, he went out and found his quarterback of the future – Mike Glennon. The problem was there was a year before Glennon could get on campus. His band aid plan was undersized Amato holdover Russell Wilson, a redshirt freshman. The problem was that Wilson was too good, and Glennon got impatient. O’Brien decided to go with Glennon over Wilson for Wilson’s senior year and Russell left.

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    Something similar could have happened in Chapel Hill. Trubisky could have pouted or schemed and forced the coaching staff to make a choice. He did not. Williams was finally given his head and the result was a Tar Heel team that played Clemson real close in the ACC Championship. Trubisky showed flashes in relief of Williams that would have justified the reasoning of the coaching staff for trying to get him on the field.

    Trubisky’s patience resulted in getting full rein of last year’s team. That team had grown up with Williams and now had seniors at most of the important positions. They were designed to showcase Trubisky and they mostly did that. Had Mack Hollins been healthy, things could have much different. A few clunkers showed up along the way, and Trubisky looked uncharacteristically bothered in the Sun Bowl against Solomon Thomas. But he made his mark, and then decided to get while the getting is good. Trubisky will never have to know what Brandon Harris may have to go through with the rebuild job this year.

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    So Trubisky worked hard and was patient and all that. But he was always the favorite in the clubhouse, it was just the team was just a slightly better for Williams. Credit Trubisky for understanding the value of the coaching staff and not turning not playing into a bigger issue, but don’t say he came out of nowhere. His path was just delayed a bit.