Beau Corrales is already a name many Tar Heel fans are familiar with — but that doesn’t prevent him from being a breakout candidate.
While fellow receivers Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown each eclipsed the 1000-yard mark, it was Corrales that Howell often looked to in critical situations. Look no further than the season opener against South Carolina, when Corrales reeled in the fourth-quarter touchdown to finish off a come-from-behind victory.
In his junior season, Corrales caught 40 passes for 575 yards and six touchdowns, and there are reasons to believe these numbers can improve in his senior season.
The primary factor is the coaching staff’s trust in Sam Howell to lead the offensive unit through the air. Toward the end of the season, offensive coordinator Phil Longo opened up the playbook for Howell to throw the ball more, which helped Corrales thrive. In the final four games of the season, Corrales hauled in 233 total yards on 13 receptions.
In addition to the expected uptick in passing attempts, Corrales could also work his way into some favorable head-to-heads because of the offensive personnel that surrounds him. As defenses scheme to slow down the 1000-yard duo of Newsome and Brown, they must also consider the equally potent backfield of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, who both tallied 1000 yards from scrimmage.
With many eyes on other parts of the field, Corrales may find himself in favorable of one-on-one situations this fall. Here, he can use his 6-foot-4 inch, 210-pound frame to catch passes over smaller defenders, a task he looked comfortable performing last year.
If Corrales can emerge in a bigger role, the Tar Heel receiving corps can fulfill its potential as being one of the nation’s best.
After losing key defensive starters Aaron Crawford and Jason Strowbridge to graduation, the defensive line will need to depend on some new faces to attack the backfield. Head coach Mack Brown foresaw this development when he inherited the program, which led him to recruit three defensive ends ranked in the ESPN top 300 last year.
The most highly touted member of UNC’s 2020 recruiting class, Evans ranks No. 2 overall in ESPN’s database for the class of 2020. According to his 247Sports evaluation, Evans “owns a high-level first step and initial quickness off the ball (and) is often in the backfield a split-second after the snap." With a 6-foot-6, 240-pound build, his size and strength makes him an early candidate to fill the role previously occupied by Strowbridge.
While stepping into the shoes of an NFL draft pick is no easy task, Evans seems poised to take on that challenge. Considering defensive coordinator Jay Bateman’s reliance on a blitz-heavy, hybrid defensive schemes, Evans’ quickness and versatility should help him thrive in any situation he's thrown into.
If Evans and fellow first-years Myles Murphy and Kedrick Bingley-Jones are able to make an instant impact, it will be a tremendous boost to a defensive unit that improved throughout the course of last season.
With Central Florida and Auburn looming as early tests to begin the season, these breakout candidates have little time to get their feet wet, and will be asked to rise to the occasion early and often. If the skillsets of Corrales and Evans are any indication, it seems they should be ready for whatever comes their way.
@DTHSports | firstname.lastname@example.org