Left Tackle Up for Grabs

Ferranto

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – While youth abounds along North Carolina’s offensive line, left tackle is the position with the least amount of experience up front.

The Tar Heels’ current depth chart at offensive line lacks a senior and has as many sophomores as juniors (4). It’s telling that UNC head coach Larry Fedora acknowledged on Tuesday that he feels better about the interior of his line – sophomore left guard Caleb Peterson, sophomore center Lucas Crowley and junior right guard Landon Turner – than the tackle positions.

“At least you’ve got three guys there that have gotten some reps in a game,” Fedora said. “At left tackle, nobody has gotten any reps.”

That’s not entirely true. Red-shirt sophomore John Ferranto appeared in 10 games last season at right tackle and on special teams before seeing significant action in the Belk Bowl at left tackle following James Hurst's leg injury.

Hurst, by the way, finished his career with a school-record 49 starts, all coming at left tackle.

Even so, Ferranto’s minimal experience tops that of his position competitors – red-shirt freshman R.J. Prince and true freshman Bentley Spain.

“Ferranto is doing a really good job right now,” Fedora said. “He’s really prepared himself. R.J. Prince is really showing some really good things and now we’re getting to see what Bentley Spain can do because he’s healthy. So all three of them are getting a lot of reps. We’ve been working multiple teams, so they get all of those reps and then we’re coaching them off film.”

Ferranto is currently running with the ones, although the Burlington, N.J. native described the competition as “pretty tight” and indicated that he’s not ready to claim the position quite yet.

“It’s early,” Ferranto said. “Coach Kap reminds us every day that it’s a competition, so every drill, every snap, every rep is just competition between us. You’ve got to make sure you’re doing the things you need to do every play. There’s no relaxing right now; just have to keep getting better.”

Ferranto, who battled Jon Heck and Nick Appel for the right tackle position last August, said that he’s more comfortable on the left side after playing in that role in high school.

UNC’s first scrimmage on Saturday will provide critical insight into the hierarchy at left tackle as the midway point of training camp is less than a week away.

 

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