Draughn: Opportunity Knocks

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The only action Shaun Draughn saw last fall was on the defensive scout team, helping prepare the offense for the next opponent. This training camp, the red-shirt freshman has secured a spot in the secondary's two deep, and he plans to make up for lost time in the coming season.

Draughn essentially started from scratch when head coach Butch Davis and his staff arrived last winter, as his knowledge of former coordinator Marvin Sanders' defensive playbook was limited.

"I knew the defense, but as far as checks and stuff, I wouldn't know what to do, because I wasn't getting as many reps," Draughn said.

But with standout Kareen Taylor and D.J. Walker exhausting their eligibility last fall, and red-shirt sophomore Bryan Dixon taking a medical hardship this preseason, the safety position has become a three-man race among Draughn, red-shirt freshman Deunta Williams and junior Trimane Goddard.

"That's what it's about – competition," Draughn said. "We all knew coming into camp that it was going to be a competition between us. If all three of us know what we're doing, and everybody else knows what they're doing, then we're all going to get playing time."

Davis indicated on Wednesday that the secondary had steadily improved during training camp, and the strong safety attributes that success to understanding the playbook.

"It just goes with learning," Draughn said. "If you know the defense, you're going to play faster. You're not worried about what you're going to do. If you know what you're supposed to do, then you're going to play faster, and your true ability comes out. That allows us to get better as a unit."

The Tarboro, N.C. native gained notoriety in high school for a dazzling highlight film that showcased his talents not only at safety, but also in the offensive backfield.

"I really wanted to play running back when I first got here," Draughn said. "But then I saw Ronnie McGill and Barrington Edwards, and then with Johnny [White] coming in… Me and Johnny joked about it all the time – how our highlights were better than the other's. I wanted to play running back – I'd like to see what I could do against a college team. But safety's where it's at."

If it seems as though this North Carolina squad has developed a strong bond over the last eight months, then you would be right.

"It's all about trust," Draughn said. "You've got to trust your teammates. It's just like your family – you've got to form bonds with them just like you do with your brothers and sisters."

With less than two weeks to the season opener, Draughn said the entire defense is ready for action. The schemes have been committed to memory, and an emphasis on the little things – feet placement, correct turns, etc. – will be the primary focus for the secondary during the remaining 13 days of training camp.

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