“I see myself as a leader for the running back group,” Brown said.
The other back vying for those starting reps is true first-year Michael Carter. Almost the same size as Brown at 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, Carter was three-star recruit out of Navarre High School (Fla.). As the No. 6 all-purpose running back in his class according to 247Sports, he will undoubtedly see the field, too.
North Carolina signed another solid running back in its 2017 recruiting class, but Antwuan Branch suffered an injury early in the summer. Branch also was expected to receive a good amount of playing time but isn’t listed on the team’s first depth chart.
The Tar Heels will also have the services of Stanton Truitt, a graduate transfer from Auburn. A smaller back as 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Truitt showed big-play potential in his time with the Tigers. He averaged over six yards per carry and caught seven passes for 100 yards in 2016.
An athlete like Truitt will be a major positive for UNC. He provides versatility out of the backfield, similar to what Logan did last season. Don’t be surprised to see him split out in the slot and be used in a variety of situations for North Carolina this season. Truitt has been injured during camp, however, so it is uncertain if he will play in UNC’s opener against California.
Two names you might not have heard coming into the season are Johnathon Sutton and Kayne Roberts. The pair of first-years actually committed to the Tar Heels as linebackers, but have since made the switch to running back in order to add depth to the roster.
Sutton could get some snaps on the goal line, seeing as he weighs in at 230 pounds. A power back was something that the team was lacking, so it’s understandable that the switch was made. Like Truitt, however, Sutton’s name was left off the team’s first depth chart.
The importance of the running game can’t be understated for North Carolina. As a team that lost its starting quarterback and three of its top four receivers, running the ball will be necessary to deal with the lack of experience — regardless of who lines up under center.
“It’s the same for everybody at every position,” Brown said. “Whoever is put out there has to get the job done.”
UNC will most likely rely on a rotation in the backfield, with Brown getting the majority of the carries. The ground game can win the close games, and it’s essential for a team searching for an identity.