At best, the Tar Heels’ running game in 2016 was mediocre. UNC ranked 10th in the ACC in total rushing yards despite having Elijah Hood and TJ Logan, two 2017 NFL draft picks. While the running game didn’t put up great numbers, it was due mostly to the fact that Mitch Trubisky threw for 3,748 yards while earning the number two overall pick in the draft; the Heels didn’t really need a great running game in order to succeed.
However, things are going to be very different this year. Trubisky, Hood, and Logan have all departed for the NFL, and UNC only has one returning running back that has recorded a carry in a college game. These departures leave a huge question mark as to who will carry the offense next year for the Tar Heels. Thankfully for the Heels, they may have found their answer in freshman Michael Carter. The 5’9 recruit from Navarre, Florida is coming off of a monster senior high school season in which he put up 3,345 all-purpose yards while scoring 45 touchdowns. He will very likely be the starter on day one if he can beat out sophomore Jordon Brown (2.3 yards per carry in 2016) during fall camp.
Carter is an incredible athlete who has an opportunity to make an impact right away. In 2017 UNC is going to have an inexperienced offense that returns less than half of its starters from 2016. While that may hurt UNC overall, this gives Carter, and the running backs in general, an incredible opportunity to shine. If Carter lives up to expectations and can carry the running load, he could be the difference between UNC making a bowl and having a losing season.