Who are the recruits who can make an impact on the field for Tar Heels in 2019?
The 2019 North Carolina Tar Heels certainly aren’t lacking in experience this season. The team returns several key players in the secondary, offensive line, running back and wide receivers. The question is whether that is a good thing or not.
The Tar Heels finished 2-9 last season, a year after limping to a 3-9 finish. North Carolina hasn’t defeated in-state rivals N.C. State and Duke since 2015. The Tar Heels could certainly use an influx of young talent.
So who are the recruits from the 2019 class who can make an impact this season? Last season, cornerback Trey Morrison finished sixth on the team in tackles, running back Javonte Williams rushed for 224 yards and five touchdowns and wide receiver Dyami Brown finished with 17 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Here’s three options from the 2019 recruiting class that can make an impact in year one.
QB Sam Howell – 4-star
We have to start with the quarterback position, as the job will be taken over by a freshman in 2019. Last year’s rotation quarterbacks Nathan Elliott (left the program) and Chazz Surratt (position change to linebacker) are no longer factoring into the equation, leaving a three horse race between redshirt freshmen Cade Fortin and Jace Ruder and Howell.
Howell, a four-star early enrollee on campus, has by far the best credentials of the group, ranking as the No. 93 recruit in the nation as a senior. He was the No. 2 player in the state of North Carolina and No. 3 quarterback overall in the nation.
Howell showed massive potential in the 2019 Spring Game, going 10-16 passing for 131 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He’ll have competition, but his talent should carry him and UNC far this season.
CB Storm Duck – 3-star
The secondary was a major weakness for the Tar Heels last season and improving the pass defense can help improve the team move up the standings in a big way. Enter Duck, who has a chance at making an impact similar to Morrison did last season. With plenty of opportunities in a secondary that was ravaged by injuries last season, it’s easy to see a role emerge for the freshman.
Duck was a three-star prospect and the No. 22 prospect in the state of South Carolina. Duck was an unheralded prospect, as UNC was one of only two Power 5 offers the corner received. It’s a positive sign to see UNC unearthing talent where others didn’t.
K Michael Rubino – 2-star (transfer)
Rubino was the starting kicker for Appalachian State in 2016 and 2017 and kickoff specialist in 2018. Rubino converted 24 of 36 field goals and 68 of 71 extra points as the kicker for the Mountaineers. He was 21st nationally in touchbacks after 49 last season.
He enters a locker room trying to replace its placekicker after Freeman Jones graduated. Jones converted 18 of 28 attempts.
He’ll be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer and add extra competition at a crucial spot heading into team camp.