Signee Update: Stephen Houston

Signee Update: Stephen Houston

JuCo transfer Stephen Houston is eager for his opportunity.

"I'm going to talk with [Ryan Houston] to learn the plays," he said. "And I already know that Travis Riley is there. And they have another ‘back that played a little bit last year. I'm just trying to get up to speed and learn the plays, get acquainted with the system, and give the other ‘backs a run for their money."

After red-shirting the 2009 season, Houston rushed for 1,082 yards and five touchdowns on 165 carries during his only season at Independence (Kan.) JC. Thus, he arrives at UNC as a red-shirt sophomore.

"[The UNC coaches] just want to see me in the pads and see what I can do in person," Houston said. "They're just ready for me to come in and make a big impact."

Houston's lone goal for this coming season is to earn a significant amount of playing time.

"I'm not the cocky type that's going to say I'm going to come in and start," Houston said. "But I am confident in my abilities …

"By me playing a year of junior college ball – although it's not on the level of D1 college – I feel that playing against 20- and 21-year olds at the age of 18 and 19 really prepared me. So I feel I have an advantage over the ones that came out of high school."

Since NCAA rules prohibit him from working out with current Independence players, Houston has been following the three-day strength and conditioning program UNC provided to him alongside former teammates who are also continuing their football careers at a four-year institution – Aaron Wallace (NC Central), Broderick Waters (Louisiana Tech), Nick Chartain (Memphis), and Brandon Haskins (Tennessee State).

"We just go in and just get it in," Houston said.

"[UNC's program] is a lot more small muscle workouts, instead of just straight benching and straight squatting. It has more plyometrics, which is something I didn't do a lot this past season. And it has a lot more stretching in it."

Houston is currently holding 227 pounds on his 5-foot-10 frame.

"[The UNC coaches] didn't say anything about [my weight]," Houston said. "But my goal is to be at 225 or lower. I want to lose a little bit of weight, but not too much, though."

For qualifying purposes, Houston needs to graduate from Independence with 48 transferrable credits and at least a 2.5 grade-point average.

"Everything is in place academically," Houston said. "All my classes that I'm taking right now are for transfer purposes."

Despite graduating from Independence on May 7 with an associate's degree in liberal arts, Houston won't enroll at UNC until the second summer semester.

"Our school system is a little backwards," Houston said. "We graduate on the seventh [of May], but our finals are not until the 10th through the 12th. I have two finals, so I'll have to come back and take two finals."

Houston plans on majoring in exercise and sport science at UNC.

"I've always liked what the trainers and the physical therapists do," Houston said. "When I pulled my hamstring a few years back, they helped me rehabilitate it and get it like new. So I just want to give back."

Houston hopes to continue wearing No. 9 during his UNC career.

"Right now, I think [jersey No. 9 is] still open," Houston said. "But [the coaches] said just wait until I get there. But I'm not really too particular about the number. I'd like 9, or 1 through 10. But I'm not too picky, because the number doesn't make the man, the man makes the number."

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