Rich Adding Value at Running Back

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Offensive coordinator John Shoop is currently installing a ‘completion-driven' scheme at North Carolina, which will require the running backs to also be receivers out of the backfield. Sophomore Richie Rich is banking on his catching ability to earn him significant playing time this fall.

"I'm doing real good with catching passes out of the backfield," Rich said. "That's one of my strengths, too."

Rich displayed his receiver skills in the spring game, taking a halfback screen from redshirt freshman quarterback T.J. Yates and scampering through traffic down the right sideline for a 32-yard touchdown reception. He appeared in five contests during the 2006 season, catching two passes for 24 yards with only one rushing attempt.

The Marietta, Ga. native is in the middle of an intense battle for the starting running back spot, along with redshirt freshmen Anthony Elzy and Johnny White.

"It's healthy competition," Rich said. "We push each other every day. We just compete and try to help each other out so that we can be the best team that we can be…We help each other out a lot, so that we don't mess up, and just encourage each other."

Rich is not ultimately concerned about whether he wins the starring role out of the backfield, as he understands that all three of the tailbacks will see significant action this season.

"I'm just trying to do whatever helps the team," Rich said. "If it helps [with] me starting, and if it doesn't – it doesn't matter to me. Coach [Shoop] is going to put who he wants in there and who can get the job done. All I can do is get better every day, and it falls where it falls."

Running backs coach Ken Browning has made a solid impression on all of his pupils during his short time at the position – especially with Rich.

"He's a real good coach," Rich said. "He always covers things real in-depth to make sure we understand. And if we mess up on something, he doesn't scream at us. He'll explain to us what we did wrong, and help us get better so that we don't mess up the next time."

Head coach Butch Davis indicated last week that Saturday's scrimmage would be important to the decision-making process in the backfield, and Rich believes he was up to the challenge with a solid performance. As this contest extends into the second week of training camp, the sophomore said he was just going to try to get better every single day.

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