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Thursday May 26th

In secondary, former Tar Heel Dré Bly to lead a mix of experience and youth

<p>Cornerback Patrice Rene (5) celebrates after a pass breakup against N.C. State on Nov. 25 in Raleigh.</p>
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Cornerback Patrice Rene (5) celebrates after a pass breakup against N.C. State on Nov. 25 in Raleigh.

Dré Bly would say that "Blue Heaven," his name for Chapel Hill, is the place to be for defensive backs in college football.

The North Carolina football program’s new, but familiar, cornerback coach has brought the same energy and expectation that he had as a standout cornerback for the Tar Heels from 1996-1998. He is outgoing on social media and has already landed a few top recruits for UNC.

As a player, Bly gathered 20 interceptions and was the first three-time All-American in the ACC, but now he must prove himself as a coach.

The UNC legend is inheriting a secondary that was a part of the No. 95 defense in the country last season, according to Football Outsiders. The Tar Heels allowed over 228 passing yards per game and gave up 1.5 touchdowns through the air each week.

There is plenty of room for improvement in the secondary. The good news for the Tar Heels is they have talent and experience returning at both corner and safety.

The group returns a number of its best performers from last season, including seniors Myles Dorn and Patrice Rene.

Dorn is expected to be one of the starters at the safety position. He played in just eight games last season, yet still managed to finish with 55 tackles, good enough for fourth most on the team. Dorn also snatched two interceptions.

There isn't much proven depth behind Dorn, however. Junior Myles Wolfolk will be counted on as Dorn’s counterpart. He only appeared in four games last season before getting injured, but accumulated 23 tackles in that span.

Unlike the safeties, the cornerback group is one of the deeper positions on the team. 

Rene is expected to lead at this position, which shouldn’t be difficult with sophomore Trey Morrison and junior Greg Ross being UNC’s two other main cornerbacks. Morrison appeared in all 11 games last season as a true first-year, while Ross played in eight.

Though other secondaries are inexperienced, they still have talent. First-year Cam'Ron Kelly, a Virginia native, enrolled at Auburn this year but decided to transfer to UNC in order to be closer to home. 

With the NCAA allowing him to play, the secondary got a huge boost. Kelly was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school according to 247Sports, and could be a major factor for the Tar Heels this season.

His fellow first-years Storm Duck and Obi Egbuna were both 3-star recruits. The three have more than enough talent and should be able to learn from the older players this season.

The secondary is in a comfortable spot going forward, and has plenty of experience and talent to compete in the ACC.


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