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North Carolina

Houston may burn redshirt and return to Tar Heels

Posted November 8, 2010

Although 30 of North Carolina's scholarship athletes have missed at least one game due to injury or the investigations the Tar Heels have managed to persevere.

The Heels have won six of their last seven games after defeating Florida State 37-35 on the road. But with that win came a huge loss. Running back Johnny White, who was emerging in his senior season, broke his right collarbone and is done for the year.

White led the Tar Heels in rushing yards (720) and touchdowns (7) and becomes the second key component of North Carolina's offense to be lost for the season. Three weeks ago tight end Zack Pianalto was lost for the season with a fractured fibula.

But unlike the tight end position, the Heels have a capable and proven running back that is ready to help carry the load. Ryan Houston led the Tar Heels in rushing last season, but bringing Houston back to action could cost him almost an entire year of eligibility. But there has been conversation about burning his redshirt.

"It is a possibility. It's something Ryan and I discussed  yesterday. We've talked about the pros and the cons. It's something that's going to be discussed again before the week is over," head coach Butch Davis said at his weekly press conference.

"It's a tough balancing act. It's one of those things, what's best for the team, what's best for the kid. It's a confliction."

Houston missed the first five games of the regular season as the NCAA investigated his status. He was cleared of any wrongdoing and was eligible to play in the Virginia game. But with the season more than half over and White running the ball well Houston and the coaches were planning for a redshirt year to allow for a full year of eligibility in 2011.

"Right now we haven't changed that opinion but it could change," Davis said.

Although North Carolina can hope to replace some of the numbers White has put up, it won't be able to replace the heart that he's played with.

"Tough, emotionally it was difficult for him," Davis said about how White is dealing with the injury. "Nobody's put more passion into the way he's played. Everybody's loved how hard he's played, how much he sacrifices. For him to have a fractured collarbone is just really sad for him."

The Tar Heels other running back, senior Shaun Draughn, is also banged up with a sprained ankle.

The Coastal Divison's leader Virginia Tech (7-2, 5-0) comes to Chapel Hill on Saturday. The Tar Heels aren't eliminated from going to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte but it would need to beat Virginia Tech and hope for the Hokies to slip up again in their final two games.

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  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Nov 9, 2010

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    I'm not sure any of them have a clue. They also came out and said the investigation was almost over, and then the NCAA said it could take up to a year to complete.

  • gopack3000 Nov 9, 2010

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    Hahaha!

  • Smedley Nov 9, 2010

    Perhaps he does not want to give Butch the chance to throw him under the bus again.
    He can play hard and possibly get drafted or sign as a free agent and get away from this currupt football culture.

  • Me again Nov 9, 2010

    This should be an easy decision for the kid. Sit out and take the red shirt. It's a shame Butchy is probably trying to pressure the kid to make him look good.

  • StunGunn Nov 9, 2010

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    I disagree here, Hokie. I don't think Thorp was blowing smoke last week. I think he's gritting his teeth and doing what he has to do until the NCAA makes it's decision and punishments, or till the season is over. After that, Butch walks - either quietly or flat out fired with no pay-ola. If Butch is back next year, I will honeslty be shocked. Whether he knew what was going on or not, too much did go on and Carolina can't keep him and maintain their dedication to academic excellence. Remember the way Thorp corrected the reporter who asked if Butch knew about the agent activity and Thorp's response was "it couldn't be PROVEN" Butch knew. Big difference. Butch didn't leave a paper trail or cell phone records like Blake did, or we're not being told that information.

  • StunGunn Nov 9, 2010

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    OK, that's funny:-)

  • StunGunn Nov 9, 2010

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    I wouldn't read too much into the decision to play Houston or not. I think the decision may be to give us a chance to win more games this year so a bowl bid is more of a possibility. Someone mentioned us possibly vacating the Rutgers win and another win earlier in the season. If that were to happen, we'd need to win more games to get a bowl bid. Davis may want to reward these guys with a bowl no matter what is on the horizon. I hope these guys DO get to play in a bowl; they certainly played their hearts out this year and deserve to be rewarded with a bowl. That said, UNC deserves to be in the position it is in. The players that were suspended/kicked off the team deserved it. It's the players on the field I support and would love to see get a bowl bid.

  • StunGunn Nov 9, 2010

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    Without their first, second and third string QB's I believe.

  • douggie64 Nov 9, 2010

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    You're so right, heelman!! They must be out recruiting new meat for the moronic posts, LOL. Regardless of Butch's record vs TOB, we're the team with back to back bowl years versus NCSU's "what if" seasons. Beating us the last 3 years has been their bowl game...minus the bowl size revenues. And yet we still kick their rears with the in state talent...go figure.

    And note, we beat FSU for our own purpose. The wolfies had a golden opportunity to pad their lead with a win at Clemson...yet they threw up all over themselves ONCE AGAIN LOL. Last week, they were practically begging our Heels to beat FSU to "help them out". Problem is, they blew a game against Clemson where they led the entire game but couldn't finish the deal. Sounds like they should be more concerned with their own team and lose their obsession with UNC...but it's not likely.

    And them WISHING for sanctions for UNC is just as much a joke. Several people with inside information (ie. Kirk Herbstreet, etc) have already stated the investigation is "much ado about nothing". The guilty parties have already been identified and punished. UNC erred on the side of caution by sitting all who have been investigated, including Houston. The fact UNC cooperated fully during the investigation (unlike USC, for example) should make sanctions very unlikely. Possibly probation...more likely a reprimand or scholarship reduction. Wishful thinking on my part, perhaps....but "the crime doesn't fit the time" as NCSU would have us believe.

    Back to the point...Houston should play now, if he so chooses. He's already a senior, and I doubt his NFL status would suffer or gain from playing out the season. The biggest pro to him redshirting and playing next year is the NFL possible lockout. But nothing is guaranteed here. I would feel better finishing the year with a Houston, Draughn, Elzy rotation though. Love what Furr did Saturday, but he can't be counted on to carry the load.

  • cussmeoutmike Nov 8, 2010

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    Hey, can you get me a deal on some shoes?

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