* While Kiaro Holts and Nick Appel rotated in at right tackle during Wednesday afternoon’s practice, Jon Heck took the initial reps and has emerged as the likely candidate to start in UNC’s season opener at No. 7 South Carolina next Thursday.
“If we played today, Heck would go,” offensive coordinator Blake Anderson told reporters following practice. “He’d be the guy.”
UNC will let the position battle continue over the next several days, according to Anderson, but the offensive staff has been pleased with Heck’s efforts to date.
“He’s done a good job, so we feel pretty comfortable with him,” Anderson said.
* Seven walk-ons were given scholarships earlier in the week. Fedora confirmed that middle linebacker Jeff Schoettmer, deep snapper Mack Lloyd, punter Thomas Hibbard and placekicker Thomas Moore – all starters – earned scholarships for the 2013 season.
While Fedora didn’t have the full list available, strong safety Dominique Green told InsideCarolina.com that he received a scholarship on Monday. Team sources also confirmed that tight end Eric Albright and defensive back Ryan Mangum were put on scholarship.
Those seven scholarships move UNC’s total scholarship count to 79, one below its maximum of 80 for the 2013 season.
Those numbers highlight UNC’s depth issues.
“We’re really thin,” Anderson said during Fedora’s radio show on Tuesday night. “We’ve got to be lucky and we’ve got to stay healthy.”
* Which Tar Heels had the best training camps on the team?
Wide receiver Sean Tapley and Bandit Norkeithus Otis, according to Larry Fedora.
The second-year head coach praised Tapley’s consistency during camp, while Anderson elaborated on his game in general.
“His work ethic every day has been phenomenal,” Anderson said. “His attitude has been great. He’s been a vocal leader. Very unselfish. There’s days he’s gotten the ball and there’s days he hasn’t and it hasn’t mattered. He’s just had a really great attitude.”
Tapley improved his technique over the summer, running better routes and becoming a better blocker, which was an area of contention last season, according to Anderson. In camp, however, Tapley has shown a willingness to be physical and has been solid blocking on the perimeter.
“He’s become an every down type player whereas last year we kind of had to bring him in and out based off what was going on,” Anderson said. “To be able to leave him on the field all of the time and know he’s going to hold up in every phase makes him a lot bigger threat and dangerous for people to have to deal with.”
* UNC has nine wide receivers on scholarship, but not one is a senior. With a glaring void in veteran leadership, a pair of sophomores have risen to the challenge – Kendrick Singleton and Quinshad Davis.
“Kendrick Singleton is the guy that is the most vocal,” Fedora said. “I would have to ask Gunter [Brewer] in that room, but just watching him and who’s doing the talking out there and who’s encouraging guys… He does a really nice job of it.”
* Fedora told reporters that sophomore wide receiver T.J. Thorpe would start at punt returner if UNC played today. Freshman wide receiver Ryan Switzer and junior cornerback Tim Scott are also in the mix.
As for kick returner, Fedora is not yet ready to name his starters, although he has plenty of options to choose from, including Tapley, Scott, Thorpe, Switzer and starting running back Romar Morris.
“I feel comfortable right now, but as far as just picking out the top two, I don’t know,” Fedora said. “I don’t know yet.”
* While Bryn Renner has the starting quarterback position on lockdown, sophomore Marquise Williams and true freshman Mitch Trubisky have been in a dog fight throughout camp for the backup role.
“It’s been good – it’s made both of them better,” Anderson said on Tuesday night. “It’s been up and down on a daily basis. They’ve both had better days than the other at times…
“Both have been really, really productive. We’ve got a unique situation because they’re both really ready to play mentally and fighting to play. A lot of guys don’t have a No. 2 or a No. 3, but I feel comfortable that we’ve got two guys that are ready to step in if something were to happen to Bryn.”