“Coming back after Christmas break the coaches started talking about moving me to defense,” said Arnold, a rising sophomore free safety. “I didn’t have a problem with it because I had been there before playing corner. To me there is not a whole lot of difference between safety and corner.”
Arnold, along with junior transfer tailback Barrington Edwards, filled in admirably for an injured Ronnie McGill and a wealth of departed talent at tailback last season.
“I didn’t feel a lot of pressure,” said Arnold, who actually earned a starting spot in the Tar Heels’ 2005 opener at Georgia Tech. “In my first game, I played my game and I made some mistakes. But that’s going to happen. It felt good to get out there in my freshman year to tote the ball a little bit.
“I’m fine with the move. I had forgotten how fun it was over there on defense.”
Still, even with McGill and Edwards back, the UNC coaches want to get a good look at some other options as well – at several positions. After all, that’s what spring is for.
“We’re not very deep at safety and we have a lot of running backs we want to take a look at this spring,” Bunting said concerning Arnold’s move to defense. “I have an idea what Cooter can do. I have an idea what Barrington Edwards can do. I know what Ronnie McGill can do. Those guys have taken a lot of reps.
“I want to find out if R.J Waters can help us,” he said. “I want to find out if Antwain Carey can finally get out on the field. I want to see what Richie Rich can do. I want to see what Bobby Rome can do.
“Bobby Rome has been impressive on the field. I want to see if one or two of those four guys can help us right now either at running back or special teams. That’s why those four guys are getting the majority of the reps right now.”
Monday was the first day in pads and the Tar Heels practiced at “thud tempo,” in other words, initial (and limited) contact at ¾ speed. They will work out again on Wednesday before the first scrimmage of the season on Thursday.
“It was good to have pads on and I think some guys out there really enjoyed themselves,” Bunting said. “It was a hotly contested nine-on-seven drill; the defense probably got the better end of it, but I was proud the way the offense came back in the next period.
“There was good enthusiasm out there today.”
Obviously Bunting will be asked almost daily to report on the competition at quarterback. Here’s the latest installment: “Joe [Dailey] has got a lot of speed on that edge, and we’re going to have a couple of quarterback runs in (the playbook). I think both Cameron [Sexton] and him are having a good competition right now.”
When asked how a player like Dailey could start a full season at Nebraska and then fall to fourth on the depth chart the following spring, Bunting replied, “I don’t have any idea how that can happen. The guy’s got great leadership skills, too. I don’t know what happened and I don’t really care what happened. I’m just glad he’s here.”
With several key contributors out for the spring due to injury, Bunting and his staff are taking largely the same approach in drilling the offensive and defensive lines, as they are with the tailbacks.
“What’s important is that these young guys are getting reps,” Bunting said. “Garrett Reynolds, Kyle Jolly, Calvin Darity has made an impression already. We want to see what Aaron Stahl can do at the center position. Again, I know what Brian Chacos can do. All he needs to do is get well. We just need to keep ‘repping’ the young guys so we can see what they can do.
“Melik Brown looks like a different guy right now – he’s enjoying it. Getting Hilee [Taylor] back will be important; it’s a shame he pulled a hamstring, but he’ll be back (for spring practices) after spring break. That position has got to pick up.”