“He got a few more reps today,” head coach Larry Fedora told reporters on Wednesday. “Each day he’s getting more and more reps. He’s feeling comfortable, so I expect him to be fine here in a few days.”
Bodine injured his knee during practice on Aug. 12. Since that time, backup Peyton Jenest had moved into the starting lineup at center and earned praise for his efforts from offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic.
Bodine’s presence, however, has been missed as North Carolina’s offense is trying to fine-tune Fedora’s new spread scheme.
“He’s the guy who makes all of the calls,” quarterback Bryn Renner said. “Peyton’s done a great job in his absence, but Russell’s got that game experience and you can’t replace that. He’s done a great job as far as rehabbing his injury and being in tune in meetings. [We’ve] sat down and gone over Elon film, so he’s done a great job just when he wasn’t fully healthy physically to be mentally in the game.”
** Another player that’s finally in full pads after being medically cleared last week is highly-touted freshman wide receiver Quinshad Davis. His coach and quarterback both had positive comments about the 6-foot-4, 185-pound wideout.
“I tell you, it’s really good to have him,” Fedora said. “That’s a tall, long athlete that can catch the football. He runs routes well. His legs are a little bit fresher than everybody else’s, but it’s really been nice to have him. As it looks right now, Quinshad is going to help us this season.”
Renner described Davis as rangy with an ability to go get the ball. He also described the Gaffney, S.C. native as being built in the mold of current Chicago Bears wide receiver and 2010 Biletnikoff Award runner-up Alshon Jeffery.
“In the scrimmage, he wasn’t full contact – he had an orange jersey on – but he still had about seven or eight catches and really made a lot of plays,” Renner said. “He’s a deep threat and he’s got great hands. He’s one of the best freshman receivers I’ve seen since I’ve been here, as far as his knowledge of the game and where he needs to be...
“He’s definitely going to be a big-time player for us this year.”
** Speaking of the wide receiver position, depth and inexperience continue to be a concern. The second-team group during practice on Wednesday consisted of a freshman (Davis) and two walk-ons (Roy Smith and Mark McNeill).
“They’ve made a lot of progress, but we’ve got a long way to go,” Fedora said. “We’re a long way away from being a polished receiving corps. Some of that had to do with some of the injuries early on and some guys having to flip to different positions, but hopefully in the next few days we can get that all corrected and they’ll look like a good football team on [Sept. 1].”
** Fedora on senior placekicker Casey Barth: “He’s been very, very consistent this camp. I’ve been really pleased with him. He did some really nice things all camp. The leg strength is completely there. He’s had no fatigue in the leg and he feels really good, too.”
** North Carolina worked on basic elements and fundamentals on Wednesday, but Fedora expects Thursday’s practice to be entirely focused on Elon, UNC’s opponent in its season opener.
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