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June 16, 2011

Football + Track = Speed

Talking with new recruit Kedrick Davis this week got me thinking about the long relationship between North Carolina's football and track and field teams.

Davis is a wide receiver prospect from Charlotte's Phillip O'Berry Academy of Technology.

He's also the state Class 2-A champion in the 100-meter dash, winning the event with a time of 10.47 seconds.

It was good enough for a new state record---breaking the record of 10.54 seconds previously set by two-time defending 2-A champion Romar Morris of Salisbury.

Morris, of course, is also headed to North Carolina to play football.

The 10.47 time by Davis is pretty impressive for a guy who was posting times of 10.8 and 10.9 when the track season began.

"I made a real big improvement and I'm proud of that,'' Davis told me. "I just reached a point where I told myself, 'If I'm going to win a state championship, I have to work hard every day in practice.' I really started to compete in my workouts and that resulted in a big change mentally and physically.''

Davis, who moved to Charlotte from Newberry, S.C., in 2004, is planning to continue his track career at UNC.

Tar Heel head coach Butch Davis actually encourages football players who want to participate in two sports, according to UNC sports information director for football, Kevin Best.

Current players like Jheranie Boyd, Zach Brown, Curtis Campbell and Hunter Furr have competed for the track team over the past two seasons.

Brown, despite being a 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker, has had a significant impact in track. As a sophomore in 2010, he set the school indoor record with a 6.72-second time in the 60-meter dash.

Other football stars who have aided the track team over the years include Mike Voight, who had the top 60-yard hurdle time in 1974 (7.4), Delbert Powell (best 60-yard dash time in 1977 with 6.3), and Tim Goad (second on all-time shot put list with throw of 61-1).

Returning to the subject of sprinters, UNC's football program has recruited some of the state's fastest players through the years. The times run by many of those still rank among the best in the state's high school history books.

The dynamic Kelvin Bryant was clocked at 9.3 seconds in the 100-yard dash back in 1979 while at Tarboro High School. The time is tied for first all time in North Carolina.

Powell, while competing for Northeastern High in 1976 and 1976, turned a 9.5 100-yard dash that ranks tied for third all time.

Former UNC running back Randy Jordan's 100-meter dash time of 10.44 in 1987 for Warren County High is 10th all time in the state rankings, while Hunter Furr's 10.46 in 2008 is tied for 12th.

Now back to recruiting.

Wednesday's verbal commitment from Maryville, Tenn., quarterback Patton Robinette increased UNC's Class of 2012 to nine players.

That makes this the second-fastest start by the Tar Heels in recruiting under Butch Davis.

North Carolina has received more pledges than this only once under Davis, that coming in 2009 when the Tar Heels had 10 players committed by June 16.

Among that early group were quarterback Bryn Renner, defensive end Donte Paige-Moss, running back Hunter Furr, offensive lineman David Collins and wide receiver Joshua Adams.

Given UNC's desire for speedy playmakers, it's probably safe to say they'll be looking for more players like these in the coming years.

And landing the state's fastest high school runners in the Classes of 2011 and 2012 in Morris and Davis is certainly a good way to keep the speed train rolling towards Chapel Hill.





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