Football to hit the ground running

Don’t get T.J. Logan wrong, Marquise Williams is athletic. 

Williams, a redshirt junior,  has the speed for the run game and the arm for the pass game. 

And Logan knows this. So does Romar Morris. And so does Khris Francis. But now it’s time to beat Williams.

A quick glance down the 2013 stat sheet for the North Carolina football team shows that Williams, a quarterback, out-rushed every single member of the team last season, including Logan, Morris and Francis — all tailbacks.

While Williams barely edged out Logan — Williams with 536 and Logan with 533 rushing yards — the quarterback rushed for more yards than Morris and Francis did combined. 

Last year, the 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound Williams became the first UNC quarterback to rush for more than 100 yards since Darian Durant in 2003, as well as the first quarterback to lead UNC as a whole in rushing since Gayle Bomar did it in 1968.

Now the running backs are ready to regain their throne.

“Not a knock on Marquise, but that’s something that we have to beat him in,” Logan said. 

“I feel like we’re going to push it and try to get that started up early this year, so it’s going to be good.”

The running back core has added Elijah Hood to help them in their quest. Hood, a freshman out of Charlotte, was named the 2013 Associated Press North Carolina High School Player of the Year.

Logan, Morris and Francis all said that Hood has seamlessly transitioned into the college style of play and that his sheer athleticism has quickly separated him from the pack. The freshman is capable of squatting at least 600 pounds.

“Of course Elijah’s definitely one of the stand-up guys coming in this freshman class,” Francis said. 

“He’s just built really solid — 230 (pounds). He’s running kids over. That’s his style, and everybody’s enjoying it. I’m looking forward to seeing him do that during the season.”

But Morris suggested that Hood’s strengths aren’t just limited to his physical makeup and that he has also made it a priority to really study his position.

“He’s a smart kid,” Morris said. “He’s going to be a great young back for us. He grabs the playbook, and he knows it very well, so he has a good grasp already. I can see the good in him.”

Coach Larry Fedora said the group of running backs he has might collectively be the most close-knit part of the team. Hood joins them.

They eat together, they spend their weekends together and they identify like brothers — united by one common goal to take over the running game once again.

“Again, you’ve got a bunch of guys competing, but they really have grown close,” Fedora said.  “The chemistry in that room is really, really neat to watch. They care about each other tremendously, and they pull for each other, and they work extremely hard. I’m really pleased with the progress they’ve made.”

Now it’s just a matter of execution.

sports@dailytarheel.com

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