Saturday’s 42-10 season-opening win against James Madison gave the North Carolina football team a reason to celebrate, but a season-ending injury brought the Tar Heels right back down to Earth.
North Carolina officials announced Monday that redshirt senior fullback Devon Ramsay will miss the rest of the 2011 season after tearing the ACL and MCL of his left knee in Saturday’s game.
The loss of Ramsay leaves just one fullback on UNC’s depth chart —senior Curtis Byrd — but coach Everett Withers said Monday that he’s confident in the talents of Ramsay’s replacement.
Ramsay’s injury hits close to home for redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard, who missed the entire 2010 season after tearing his ACL on the third day of practice last season.
“Devon, that’s going to be a great loss,” Bernard said. “He’s like a big brother to me … (Having) gone through it, it broke my heart.”
Ramsay was found permanently ineligible by the NCAA in November, but North Carolina won the ensuing appeal and the NCAA reversed its original decision in February.
Because Ramsay’s 2007 redshirt season was medical-related, Withers said they’ve thought about the possibility of seeking a sixth year of eligibility for Ramsay.
“That’s in the early stages,” Withers said. “We’ve talked generically about it, but we just want to make sure that he’s okay and then we’ll pursue that as it comes up.”
In the meantime, Withers and the rest of the Tar Heel squad are busy preparing for Saturday’s game against Rutgers.
Withers said he was pleased with the team’s overall performance against James Madison on Saturday, but said there are still some kinks that need to be worked out.
And redshirt sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner knows exactly what can be improved upon.
“It was my first time in the huddle with all these fans and the crowd noise and stuff like that, so we definitely need to get (communication) corrected with my play calls and just speaking louder and making sure everyone in the huddle hears what I have to say,” Renner said.
North Carolina beat Rutgers last season in Piscataway, N.J. 17-13 after trailing the Scarlet Knights 10-0 after the first quarter.
Withers said the offensive line was one of the bright spots for the Tar Heels on Saturday, but noted that Rutgers’ top-notch defense might force them to be even better this weekend.
“We’ve got to be very, very good up front this week as far as protecting the quarterback and giving ourselves some run lanes,” Withers said. “I feel like it’s one of the better defenses we’ll play.”
Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.