“Things have really changed a lot,” Mapp said. “Football has always been important to me, but it’s become more important since I’ve began starting. It’s more responsibility.”
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Mapp was awarded a football scholarship in January, after playing in 10 games as a true freshman – primarily on special teams.
In high school, he was two-time all-conference and all-region as a linebacker. Mapp also played wide receiver and tight end. He was named the MVP of the 2002 2-A state championship game.
Now he is preparing to make his fourth consecutive start on the rapidly improving Tar Heel defense, after stepping in for an injured Victor Worsley, who in turn had stepped in for the injured Doug Justice. John Bunting says Mapp now appears to have solidified the top spot in the MIKE rotation.
“He has really taken to heart the position – working hard to know his responsibilities, working hard to know his adjustments and working hard to learn his opponent,” Bunting said. “I promised him a scholarship in January if he did what we asked him to do – that is make all your classes, get all your schoolwork done, be a disciplined person off the field. He’s done all of those things – like a lot of kids in our program.”
Justice, whose senior season was cut short after he broke a bone in his right foot against Wisconsin, has taken Mapp under his wing since he moved over from the WILL position after Worsley got nicked up.
“He wasn’t exactly behind me, but I’ve been very happy with his progression,” Justice said of Mapp. “I’ve been talking to him about getting lower and taking on ‘Cover Twos.’ And if he needs me, I’m there.
“Durrell’s just going to get better with the more reps he sees. He studies film, he works hard and he doesn’t take anything for granted.”
So far, Mapp has 19 tackes (eight solo) and has split one tackle for loss. He’s also been credited with a quarterback hurry. However, Mapp is taking his time working to become a better football player as he continues to anchor the center of the UNC defense.
“I just want to watch more film, study plays and get better at what I do,” Mapp said.