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UNC Record Nine Tar Heels Taken In NFL Draft…

…and all we have to show for it is a lousy Music City Bowl trophy and 0-4 record versus NC State.

After seeing four Tar Heels taken in the first three rounds, five other former UNC players were picked on Saturday. In probably the biggest shock of the day, UNC only had one defensive back taken and it was neither of the two players everyone assumed would be drafted. S Da’Norris Searcy was taken in the fourth round at 100th overall by Buffalo.

In the fifth round, two players who, a year ago, were both at a crossroads heading into their senior seasons, were taken in the NFL Draft. RB Johnny White was taken 133rd overall Buffalo joining Searcy in upstate New York. White was an afterthought last spring with Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston tabbed for most of the carries heading into the 2010 season. Then came the NCAA scandal which forced both Draughn and Houston to miss games opening the door for White. The senior was impressive until a broken clavicle in the FSU game sidelined him for the season. Likewise QB T.J. Yates watched Bryn Renner impress the world in the 2010 spring game and faced a growing sentiment he should no longer start. Yates responded by being “the guy” on a team in turmoil leading the offense with multiple 400 yard passing games and being solid in almost every facet of his game. The Houston Texans tabbed Yates at 152nd overall, something that would have been unheard this time last year. In both cases, I have no idea whether it will pan out but it is great two stand-up guys are getting a shot.

LB Quan Sturdivant’s marijuana arrest last summer and a nagging hamstring injury was obviously enough to give NFL teams pause. Sturdivant slipped all the way to the sixth round where Arizona made him the 171st pick. And yes, if you had Yates going before Sturdivant I recommend buying a lottery ticket. TE Ryan Taylor rounded out UNC’s record setting day going 218th to Green Bay.

The biggest surprise of the NFL Draft from a UNC perspective was who was missing among the 254 picks. Deunta Williams and Kendric Burney were both expected to be picked but at the end of the day are undoubtedly wondering what their next step will be. In Williams’ case, I imagine the inability to workout and the broken ankle scared enough teams off they were unwilling to risk a pick. As for Burney, it is a tad more mysterious. Based on the combine Burney was seen as undersized and there were concerns about his ability to be physical with bigger receivers. Burney’s 40-yard times were in the 4.7 range is a tad on the slow side for a corner. Still, I agree with Joe Giglio on this one. Of the 53 defensive backs taken in this draft, Burney or Williams isn’t among them? The real tough part of this for Burney, Williams and other undrafted players is the lockout which was reinstated by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday. That means none of these players can be picked up by a team right now and start the process of fighting for a roster spot. On one hand this might work out better for Williams who needs another month to be ready to play. For Burney(and Williams too) it is total uncertainty. Needless to say the past nine months have been really crappy for both of these guys. You can only hope it gets better soon.

Even though UNC was not able to fully reap the benefits of having a boatload of NFL Draft picks, the true upside of today for the Tar Heel program is the recruiting pitch. The safest bet you can make right now is Butch Davis and his coaches will use the phrase “nine NFL Draft picks” until they are blue in the face. UNC tied USC for most picks in the draft which I also imagine will be mentioned with some regularity on the recruiting trail. Overall the past few days were good for the UNC football program. At some point I really hope we see some good days like this on the field in the near future.

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9 comments to UNC Record Nine Tar Heels Taken In NFL Draft…

  • lviveiros

    I was surprised that Williams and Burney did not get drafted. Other than Kendric Burney and Deunta Williams who else did not get drafted?

  • gregrustin

    let it be known to all recruits: if you want to go to the NFL……see Butch

  • 850inExile aka UNC RAJ

    ^^Zach Pianalto, Shaun Draughn, Mike Ingersoll and Alan Pelc

  • The Webbed Heel

    “…and all we have to show for it is a lousy Music City Bowl trophy and 0-4 record versus NC State.”

    Really uncalled for and unnecessary. How about we celebrate the accomplishment for these guys instead of focusing on the negative (again). Obviously, it is frustrating that we have lost to State 4 years in a row. But it’s more frustrating when we have to bring it up ad nauseam, verifying that our fans and bloggers are no better than theirs.

    But thats pretty much the way Football is treated on this blog anyway. If its not total apathy its always a negative slant.

  • notoriousii

    ^Well said webbed heel. Despite so called supporters of academics’ emphasis on winning, a college coach’s first job is making sure his/her students are prepared for a career after their time at Chapel Hill. BD and RW’s 79% and 86% respective graduation rates and their draft day histories speak to their efforts on that. BD has already comprised the best first four years of any UNC football coach (that I am aware of) and managed to beat Florida State(Cheap shot at Mack Brown 40% graduation rate BTW). Just being a student at UNC is hard, but to manage 2 a day practices when many of these guys are from country or urban schools with few resources is nothing short of fantastic; making the adjustment from a weak academic foundation takes an immense amount of time, and this will translate into errors on the field. As for the NC State game, O’Brien is a good coach and knows that beating UNC is his job security; that game will always be difficult.

    I was up front for the Music City Bowl, and it was not lousy. It was good enough to make SEC teams shy away from us on this years schedule. “Snap the damned ball!” -Taylor ‘TJ’ Yates, last play of regulation Music City Bowl 2010!!!!

  • Andy In Omaha

    I think the comment about 0-4 against NC State and a Music City Bowl trophy aren’t offensive. If this team had the talent that they had to get NINE guys drafted into the NFL (and I believe Williams, Burney, and Pianalto will get signed once the lockout is over)then the record SHOULD have been much better than 32-20 over the last four years with the inexplicable losses, not being able to beat our annoying little brother from Raleigh, and only one bowl win since Butch’s tenure.
    Kudos to Butch for the high graduation rate and I give him high marks for handling the scandal stuff better than 95% of other D-I coaches out there, but the program has underachieved a little bit.
    But in no way do I think THF was trying to offend anyone….there are a lot of diehard football fans that frequent the board, and the frustration level with the talent this team had is warranted, IMO.

  • rathskellar68

    I agree with Andy in Omaha. Our football team has not played up to its talent. The blame for this is widespread, but it’s a fact. I fail to see how THF, whose quality as a blogger and fidelity to Carolina have been proven in spades, can be criticized for observing something we all know is true.

  • Heels Perspective

    I am happy for the guys who are pursuing the pro football dream and clearly this success (at putting players in the NFL) is a big recruiting tool.

    As a whole, I would agree that in BD’s time, especially years 2-4 the overall record is somewhat disappointing considering the promise at the beginning of each season. Certainly, losing to Russell Wilson and an otherwise crappy State program stands out as the biggest issue in terms of wins/losses.

    Not making excuses but if you break down each season, there was always something, like a key injury or some bizarre play (i.e. FUMBLE AGAINST GT THIS PAST YEAR) that kept the Heels from getting over the hump.

    * Brandon Tate’s injury and then TJ (who was playing well) in 08 were factors.
    * In my view the decimated O-line, the Draughn and Pianalto injuries, and frankly terrible play by Yates and terrible coaching on the defensive side of the ball hurt in 09.
    * 2010 is self explanatory but losing Johnny White and then Bruce Carter going out halfway through the State game hurt the Heels in hopes of 10 wins.

    But, I’m a lifetime fan and I have high hopes for 2011.

  • Asheville Heel

    I read all of these comments and agree that we have under achieved with the quality and number of skilled position players we have had. But, how many of our NFL players were O-lineman? This is where we have struggled from day one since Butch came to CH. When we get the offensive line to the caliber of our other playing units we will see the dividends of Butch’s recruiting start paying off on the field.