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North Carolina Tar Heels: Surprise Team & National Title Contender

nflWith college football on the horizon, I wanted to discuss one of my favorite ‘under-the-radar teams in 2010 – the North Carolina Tar Heels.  While the betting public loves to wager their hard-earned money on high-scoring teams and flashy offenses, the fact remains that defense ultimately wins championships.  With that motto in mind, here are the reasons for why I believe North Carolina is a legitimate National Title contender:

  1. North Carolina takes the field with one of the best defensive lines in the country led by Marvin Austin, who is a top NFL prospect for the 2011 Draft.  Last year, the Tar Heels tallied 33 sacks wile limiting opponents to a mere 96 rushing yards per game (2.8 ypc).  With four defensive linemen surpassing 300 pounds each and the entire two deep returning in 2010, look for the Tar Heels to surpass last year’s defensive numbers.
  2. The Tar Heels also field the best group of linebackers in college football, bar none.  Led by Bruce Carter and Kevin Reddick, both of whom are top NFL prospects and definite selections in next year’s Draft, North Carolina will field an outstanding linebacking corp. in 2010.  Let’s also note that this is an extremely experienced group as the Top 4 tacklers from last year return for an encore in 2010.
  3. There is little doubt that North Carolina will have the best secondary in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while fielding a Top 10 secondary on a national scale.  This season, all four starters return to action, including Deunta Williams, Kendric Burney and Da’Norris Searcy.
  4. While quarterback T.J. Yates is nothing to write home about, he did throw for 2,136 yards with a 60.3% completion rate last year.  Yates (or Bryn Renner) will be poised for a big year in 2010 based upon a much improved receiving corp. that returns intact  with a lot of experience and raw skill.   

With nineteen starters returning and one of the best defenses in college football, North Carolina is an under-the-radar team that could surprise in 2010.  Indeed, the Tar Heels’ defense has six NFL prospects who could have been drafted this year!  Defense wins championships, and North Carolina fields one of the best defensive units in the land.