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August 15, 2012Following the first of two practices on Wednesday as UNC gets back into two-a-days, Tar Heel head coach Larry Fedora spoke with reporters.
Carolina got back fifth-year senior fullback Devon Ramsay, as well as true freshman wide receiver Quinshad Davis Wednesday, as both players were seen doing various drills.
"He's in shorts. He caught some balls and he moved around good," Fedora said of Davis.
"It was good to have it over with and I know he has been very anxious. He and his mother have done a great job through this whole process of having everything ready to go."
For Davis, who has been around practice but unable to participate through most of August, there's a five-day acclimation period, which started on Wednesday.
He can only practice once a day (no second practice on Wednesday for Davis), and he has to go through phases of workout availability. By next week he should be at full go and able to work in practice with no limitations.
"It's good to have him (Davis) out there. He's got five days---he's got two days in shoulder pads, two days in shorts, and one day in full pads (of acclimation)."
Ramsay, who injured his knee in last year's season opener, was limited throughout the spring, and hadn't reported to training camp until he was cleared to practice.
And while Fedora suggested that Ramsay still has a little work to do to get fully cleared, he's making substantial progress.
"It's just good to get him (Ramsay) back and get him involved in what's going on," Fedora said. "They haven't released him fully, but we need to get him acclimated and get him involved in everything so when he does get released, we can find out what he can do and how he can help this football team."
There have been questions as to exactly Ramsay can help the 2012 Tar Heels.
After all, he's a traditional pro-style fullback now playing in a spread, where a fullback is often not even on the field.
While Fedora was reluctant to describe exactly how the UNC coaches plan to utilize Ramsay, he hinted that the Tar Heels have plenty of plays that could use him.
"I haven't seen him yet (in practice)," Fedora said of Ramsay. "He wasn't in spring, (and) he hasn't been in camp. Yeah, he's going to play fullback. As far as what we do with him, we actually have a whole offense with two backs. So it just depends on how good he is and what he does."
Ramsay, a rare sixth-year college player, has had a remarkable college journey filled with bad luck and unfortunate breaks, but now he's got one last chance to be an impact player for UNC this fall while also showing his potential to professional franchises.
"I know he went through some things and then had the knee injury. That's pretty tough on a young man. And now to be very close to getting to come back, I think he's excited. I think he's real excited to get back," Fedora said of Ramsay. "But again, we've got to be cautious and make sure we have him for the entire season, and not just for camp."
North Carolina conducted 12 consecutive practices August 3 through this past Monday, August 13 (11 straight days of practices and one day of two-a-days), but on Tuesday the Tar Heels got a much-needed day off from the practice field.
While the team still conducted position meetings, the day was an opportunity for the UNC players to get medical treatment if they needed it, as well as some good-old fashioned rest and relaxation.
The Tar Heels also conducted the program's first 'Skit Night,' a staple of the Fedora years at Southern Miss that is likely to become a hit now in Chapel Hill.
'Skit Night' is an opportunity for the UNC players to impersonate their coaches in front of one another---a camaraderie-building experience that's as much fun as it is helpful for team chemistry.
"It (Skit Night) is about those guys getting to blow off a little steam, getting to make fun of their coaches, and just bonding as a team---a little team chemistry," Fedora said.
"We've been doing it for four years (at Southern Miss). The kids have a good time with it, so it was good. And then depending on who's skit was first, that's who got to go 'snack' first. Everything is about a competition."
"We had been going 12 straight days, and they've had coaches all over them every day, and it gives them a chance to make fun of their coaches, so it's a lot of fun for everybody," the UNC head coach added.
A few guys particularly impressed Fedora with their acting skills.
"Romar Morris, I didn't know he had it in him. I didn't know he had that kind of personality. And Jon Heck was a totally different person that I thought he was," he said. "They did a nice job. Yeah, they got me pretty good."
Fedora concluded his post-practice interview with some commentary on the Tar Heel secondary, which was missing one key component Wednesday---sophomore cornerback Tim Scott.
Terry Shankle stepped up and took Scott's spot with the first team, while true freshman T.J. Jiles got work with the second team defense.
The Tar Heels have a couple interesting position battles brewing back in the secondary, with redshirt freshmen Sam Smiley and Darien Rankin fighting for a starting job at free safety, and players like Pete Mangum and Brandon Ellerbe battling for playing time behind Gene Robinson at the 'Ram' position, among others.
Coach Fedora says he's pleased with the big plays the secondary has been making in recent practices.
"I'll tell you what. Every day we're getting a few more picks (interceptions)," he said. "There's a lot of young guys. We don't have enough depth at any position except for tight end right now. We're an ankle away."
"Tre Boston got a pick down in the red zone, when we (the offense) were down in the scoring zone. That was a big play. That's what wins games is turnovers, and I think the last couple of days, the secondary has done a nice job of that."