Freshman football trio ready for rivalry game
At 6 a.m. Tuesday, just four days before the North Carolina football team’s meeting with in-state rival N.C. State, freshman wide receiver Bug Howard walked into the Tar Heel locker room and immediately saw red.
“They’ve been trashing our locker room every day,” Howard said. “Well, I don’t know who’s been doing it. We’re guessing somebody, an N.C. State fan, has been coming and putting all that red up in our locker room. I hope a UNC person is not doing it.
“It’s just red every day in our locker room, and we just go tearing it down. We don’t know who it is, but we’re going to take it out on them whoever it is.”
This time last year, Howard missed the game between UNC and N.C. State to play in one of his own at Wilcox County High School in Rochelle, Ga.
Freshmen T.J. Logan and Ryan Switzer got a chance to catch the game live — Logan from his Greensboro home, and Switzer from the stands in Kenan Stadium.
What the three players had in common that day, however, was each had already committed to play for the Tar Heels — all selecting UNC instead of other schools, including N.C. State.
For Switzer, a West Virginia product, the game was a chance to fully experience and understand the rivalry between the two schools.
“I got excited,” said Switzer, remembering watching Giovani Bernard’s game-winning touchdown. “I felt like I was on the team because all those guys were so emotional. (It) kind of showed me what the State game really means to the upperclassmen.”
Now, a year later, the freshman trio is doing its part to replace talent lost to graduation and the NFL.
Injuries and lack of production caused the coaching staff to switch up the depth chart, and the group is getting an opportunity to carve a place in UNC’s offensive attack.
“We knew all three had a chance, and even Khris Francis,” Offensive Coordinator Blake Anderson said. ”I’ve been really pleased with their progress. I’d like to see them get more and more involved, and as they prove that they can, they will.”
Howard caught two touchdown passes in the 34-10 win against Boston College Saturday, and Switzer scored his first touchdown against the Eagles, a 13-yard reception good for UNC’s first score of the game.
Despite having accrued 230 yards — 87 of them on the ground — in just three games this season, Logan has yet to find the end zone.
And though each game is an opportunity to get in the box score, for Logan, crossing into the end zone at Carter-Finley Stadium against a backdrop of fans decked out in the same color that’s filled his locker room all week would make his first collegiate touchdown even sweeter.
“If it helps our team win, then I’m about it,” Logan said. “If it happens against N.C. State, I’m going to be even more excited.”