Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Maybe former North Carolina safety Trimane Goddard knew exactly what he was doing when he decided to take Da'Norris Searcy under his wing -- grooming him to eventually take over the starting role at safety. Or, maybe it was as simple as Goddard befriending a freshman who looked up to him.
Goddard would often call and offer to swing by and pick Searcy up to go watch film with him. Heading into spring football, where replacing Goddard will be one of the Heels' priorities and biggest losses on defense, their time together was well spent, as Searcy now expects his role to change.
"Hopefully it will change for the better, because I'm more experienced and I know a lot more than I knew my freshman year coming in," Searcy, who will be a junior, said. "A lot of that comes from learning from Trimane. When I first got here, Trimane was like my big brother. Anytime he'd say he was watching film I'd always go watch with him, so I learned so much from him. So I hope that this increases my role, by me knowing so much now through him."
Searcy, who spent some time at linebacker and on special teams last year, finished the season with 25 tackles, including two sacks, three pass breakups and three passes defended. One of the question marks heading into spring football is whether or not the coaching staff will move Searcy to linebacker to help plug the hole left by Mark Paschal, the Heels' second leading tackler. Searcy was used in a variety of packages last season.
"The coaches, they believed in me, and I believed in myself," Searcy said. "They were like, 'We've gotta find ways to get you out there on the field more.' So one week I was in a package where I'd be a nickel back. The next week I was in another package like a linebacker."
Searcy said he played a lot of linebacker at Towers High School in Decatur, Ga., where he caught the attention of schools like Florida, LSU and Virginia Tech. The bulk of his experience at safety came when he arrived in Chapel Hill.
If he had his pick, though, Searcy said he'd like to be the one to step into Goddard's role.
"I hope so," he said, "God willing."
One thing's for sure -- somebody has to do it.
"To come here and have a chance to be a part of something big means a whole lot to me," Searcy said. "I don't have a ring in football. I don't have any kind of a ring in football. I want one real bad. Knowing that I can come in and contribute means a whole lot to me."