The loss of several contributors, especially Erik Highsmith, has provided opportunities for new receivers.
The proven commodity of the group is Quinshad Davis, the true sophomore from Gaffney, S.C. Davis led the team last season with 776 yards and five touchdowns on the year.
The spotlight will shine brighter on No. 14 in 2013, although Davis doesn’t seem too worried about the stage.
“To tell you the truth, I never get nervous for a game,” said Davis, who has put on 20 pounds since arriving at UNC and now weighs 205. “For me, it’s just go out there and make plays.”
After a record-setting performance at Virginia last season where he recorded 16 receptions, Davis has already shown plenty of promise and this year will only provide more opportunities to build on that.
Davis may be the designated go-to receiver for the Tar Heels, but he made it well known who the leader of the unit is in 2013 – Sean Tapley, a redshirt junior from Jacksonville, Fla. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder is currently the oldest wide receiver on UNC’s roster.
Tapley – or ‘Tap’ as he called by his teammates – knows he has a responsibility to be a leader for the younger guys around him.
“I know I have to lead by example,” Tapley said. “I just tell the boys to follow my lead and just work hard.”
His role will increase this year, and in this spread offense, Tapley expects to have a lot of opportunities to “make plays.”
Both Davis and Tapley used that phrasing on multiple occasions to assert the main philosophy behind the UNC wide receiver unit. For a team that averages 40 plus points a game, there will be opportunities available to make plays.
Wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer is responsible for this young position group, and his focus this spring has been to develop depth in the wake of attrition and injuries.
Players are continuously rotating inside and outside and working at different spots.
“They’re learning multiple positions which enables them to be more valuable to our team and also for us to build some depth,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora told reporters last week.
Tapley approves of the constant rotations and the reasoning behind it.
“Coach Brewer, he’s just moving everybody around because anybody can get hurt,” said Tapley. “He can put me at A, he can put me at Z, X, wherever he needs me. I’m going to play it.”
The desire to move guys around in the unit is a necessity because as injuries manifest Fedora and his staff know they need players to be able to fill the voids.
With injuries to T.J. Thorpe and Reggie Wilkins, as well as other sport responsibilities limiting Roy Smith and Mark McNeill, the spring season has allotted a large amount of reps to a multitude of young Tar Heel receivers. The one who has made an impression with both the staff and teammates is sophomore Kendrick Singleton.
“He’s my roommate,” Davis said. “He’s making a lot of plays here in the spring and I see big things for him in the fall.
Davis also noted another wide receiver stepping up his game.
“Jordan Darty is a walk-on that’s come on and done a great job so far in the spring,” Davis said.
The position has a lot of potential to develop due to the youth and the ability for the players to pick up the system.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do technically and really learning all the little details of it but just for them to be able to step up and know what to do and play at our tempo has been tremendous,” offensive coordinator Blake Anderson said.
For now, the focus at wide receiver will be developing depth and hoping the younger players take advantage of the amount of reps they are able to get during the spring.
The ultimate goal, however, remains the same. As Davis summarized: “I just want to get a win. That’s the main thing.”