Three North Carolina Tar Heels' Freshmen Who Could Make a Difference

Justin CrawfordCorrespondent IMay 22, 2010

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: Nike footballs on the sidelines as the North Carolina Tar Heels play against the University of South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium on September 22, 2007 in Tampa, Florida.  USF  won 37-10.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images


The North Carolina Tar Heels are finally making some headway in football. They are getting better on the field every year, and their recruiting is phenomenal. 

How will their recruiting help them on the field this season?

Here are three incoming freshmen who I believe could make a difference:

  1. James Hurst-Widely believed to be the best recruit in this class, Hurst is a fantastic offensive tackle prospect. At 6'5" 284 lbs., why could he not make a difference on an unproven and injury-riddled offensive line? Hurst was the No. 3 offensive tackle prospect in the country, according to Scout. He was widely-recruited, and picked the Heels. I would be crazy to think this young man will not get some playing time this season, barring injury. He will be an excellent backup, possibly moving into the starting lineup if the injury bug continues, and a quality lineman.
  2. T.J. Leifheit-The other T.J., who is probably happy not to be named Yates. Like Hurst, Leifheit will be an important piece to the offensive line if he can stay healthy. He did not play in the Spring Game due to injury. Leifheit is 6'7", 315 lb. offensive tackle who may have trouble with his ability to move quickly, but is certainly a big body. He could be a key piece in a line that has been filled with holes.
  3. Gio Bernard-One of the highest-rated UNC running backs in years, he has the ability to be a game-changer. The only question is how much playing time he will get this season. I am sure Butch Davis will work him into the John Shoop led offense slowly. He could receive some valuable time if Draughn or Houston gets injured. He may be as good as Johnny White or Hunter Furr now. Expect Bernard to move up the depth chart, howbeit, slowly. I am looking forward to the years to come with Bernard holding down the running back reins, but he could be a difference-making freshman this year if given the chance.

Those are just three freshmen who I could see making a difference. Two of the players mentioned play at a position filled with holes and questions. 

More impact freshmen from another good class will become evident as the fall approaches. All of them will be fighting for playing time, and the opportunity to help the Heels win.


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