Carolina's Davis used to early entry possibility
Posted January 8, 2010
By now, we all know that Marvin Austin, Bruce Carter, Quan Sturdivant, Kendric Burney and Deunta Williams will spend one more year wearing Carolina blue under the watchful eye of Tar Heel head football coach Butch Davis.
Thursday afternoon, Davis shed a little light on why all five players decided to tell the NFL to wait for at least another season.
Many outside of the program only began to think about the possibility of an early departure late in the year, but in fact the process of figuring out what was best for each individual athlete started long before that.
“We were very proactive,” Davis said. “I met with our whole junior class six months ago and started laying the foundation. I said ‘Look, here’s what I’m going to do for you – I’m going to reach out to eight or ten people that I truly, truly trust in the NFL that are either general managers or directors of college scouting or position coaches, and I’m going to get a real great feel at the end of the season how you played this year and what their organization thinks about you, and if you chose to come out, this is potentially where you might go.’”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Davis, or his staff, has dealt with the possibility of players leaving a program early.
In his time with Miami and North Carolina, Davis and his staff have coached or recruited a total of 30 first-round draft picks. When you’re dealing with that kind of talent, questions arise on a nearly annual basis about who should stay, who should go, and why.
“One real distinct advantage for our players and our program is that we’ve got seven people on our football staff that have either coached or played in the National Football League – that credibility gives those guys a lot of insight. I had a lot of kids [at Miami] that had the exact same decisions. Do I stay? Do I go? What are the pros and the cons? How is it going to impact me if I leave early or if I stay?
“Are you prepared? Is this the best decision at this particular time? I think every single one of them realized that there were things from a football perspective that one more year [could help them become] bigger, stronger, faster, more experience [and] more polished.”
As the Tar Heel fans waited patiently to find out the future of some of their favorite and most productive players, so did the coaches.
“Deunta [Williams] and Kendric [Burney] were the first ones that probably prior to the bowl game said ‘Hey look, I’m coming back,’ and Marvin was probably the last one, and rightfully so. They all came here with the intention of getting an education and graduating with a degree, and the great thing is that all of them will be able to do that.”
Throughout his career, Davis has seen every imaginable scenario play out. He has had players leave early that some, including the head man himself, thought should stay, and had athletes remain on campus all four years when many felt three would suffice.
The former head coach of the Cleveland Browns sees the decision as one that is unique to every player and every situation. This year, the “Carolina Five,” as we’ll refer to them, took a cue from several of Davis’ best Hurricanes players.
“Dan Morgan, Ed Reed, Santana Moss – they all chose to stay. They didn’t do it as a collective group but they knew that it was going to make them a better football player. In some form or fashion, they needed another year of maturity, they needed another year of experience, and I think being able to share all of that with those guys, I think it certainly impacted some of the decisions that they made.”
While many of the Carolina faithful continue to get caught up in the latest on the recruiting circuit, wondering which, if any of the All-American players at the various All-Star Games will commit to play in Chapel Hill, Butch Davis and his staff got the best player personnel news they could have asked for when all of the juniors decided to return.
Nobody that Carolina would have gotten signatures from on Signing Day would have made the impact that juniors will next year – a scary thought for Tar Heel haters everywhere.
“Our expectation as a coaching staff and our expectation of our football team is that we are going to be better,” Davis admitted. “They all recognized the fact that they all came in together as a collective group, for the most part, and they’ve got a chance to finish their education and be a part of a four-year process, make them the best players possible, and make this senior class a really special senior class.”
With the possibility still remaining that North Carolina could return 19 of its 22 starters on both sides of the ball from a year ago, 2010 could be a special season.