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.