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Analysis: UNC offensive line looks to build upon strong 2023 performance

Graduate student offensive lineman Ed Montilus (63) protects freshman quarterback Drake Maye (10) at the game versus Florida A&M at Kenan Stadium on Aug. 27. The Heels won 56-24.

UNC had one of the best offenses in the country last season, finishing at No. 19 overall and second in the ACC in yards per game. 

Often uncredited for this success is the offensive line. As the protectors of the quarterback and glue of the offense, this position group will be monumental in the team’s performance this year. 

According to Mack Brown, this group isn't yet where it needs to be.

"We’ve had too many sacks here for four years,” Brown said. “And I’ve told Chip [Lindsey] and Freddie [Kitchens] and Larry Porter, I’m not going to go through another season with a bunch of sacks. We have a great quarterback and we have to protect him.”

Coaching changes will also play a big part in the offensive line’s performance. UNC is welcoming a new offensive line coach, Randy Clements, after the departure of Jack Bicknell Jr., and a new offensive coordinator, Chip Lindsey, after the departure of Phil Longo. 

The core unit of Corey Gaynor, Spencer Rolland, Ed Montilus, and Jonathan Adorno, will be returning to head the offensive line for North Carolina. All but Adorno are currently listed as startersand will be looking to create consistency in 2023. 

Here’s a look at how these five players — with a combined 22 years of collegiate experience — will aim to help the Tar Heels this season:

Corey Gaynor 

Originally from Parkland, Fla., graduate center Corey Gaynor is entering his second season at UNC and his seventh year of college football. 

He transferred to North Carolina after spending five seasons at Miami. While a member of the Hurricanes, Gaynor started all games in his redshirt sophomore and junior seasons and earned one ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week title. A season-ending knee injury cut his senior campaign short in 2021. 

Gaynor had an immediate impact on UNC after joining the team in 2022. He started all 14 games last season and only allowed two sacks, earning an All-ACC Honorable Mention. 

In 2023 the Tar Heels will look to Gaynor for his guidance and experience, especially under a new coaching staff. 

Spencer Rolland 

Graduate right tackle Spencer Rolland joined North Carolina’s offensive line in the 2022 season.  

Rolland transferred from Harvard after four years, and last season participated in a total of 975 snaps, playing in all games except for one against Georgia State. 

In a group of almost all returners, Rolland will be a source of consistency and another veteran presence alongside Rolland on the offensive line.

Ed Montilus 

This season for graduate left guard Ed Montilus will be his fifth in Carolina Blue. 

After being redshirted in 2018, Montilus played in all games of the 2019 season and made eight starts. 

After suffering a season-ending injury his sophomore season, he went on to play in all 13 games in 2021 and start all 14 games of the 2022 season.

As a team veteran and experienced offensive lineman, Montilus will be an important part of the larger offensive vision in the fall. 

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William Barnes

William Barnes, like his teammates on the offensive line, is a seasoned veteran of college football. 

Out of high school, Barnes was ranked the No. 5 offensive tackle in the country. He is entering his fifth year with the Tar Heels after starting 13 of the 14 games during the 2022 season. 

Heading into the 2023 season, Barnes is switching from right tackle to left tackle. Coach Mack Brown expects his experience in college football to prepare him to make the switch. Barnes emphasizes the importance of versatility in his position and looks forward to switching it up.  

Jonathan Adorno 

Over the past three seasons, senior Jonathan Adorno has proved himself to be a steady and reliable member of North Carolina’s offensive line. 

Coming out of high school, Adorno was ranked as North Carolina’s 29th-best player. 

After only appearing in 16 games throughout his first-year and sophomore seasons combined, Adorno appeared in all 14 games of the 2022 season. He played at right guard for 215 games and did not allow a single sack. 

A key player amongst a stacked line of offensive returners, Adorno will also bring notable experience to a hopeful Tar Heel team.


@dthsports |