Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Miami coach Randy Shannon isn't the only coach in the ACC looking for a little bit of separation in a crowded backfield. North Carolina coach Butch Davis also said he is ready for "one marquee guy" who gets the bulk of the carries to take over at running back, and said Shaun Draughn "can be that guy."
Davis made sure he praised the job Ryan Houston has done, but said that he expects Draughn to do a much better job of protecting the football this fall. Draughn moved from safety to tailback in preseason camp last year and became the starter midway through the season. Now that he's had an entire offseason to prepare at the position, the expectations are higher.
"He went through no spring practice, no drills, no fundamentals, all the things you need to spend time working on," Davis said. "He got thrust into the role, and very easily he could rush for almost 1,000 yards in about three quarters of the season."
Draughn will have a fullback who wants to block for a 1,000-yard rusher this fall in Bobby Rome, and Draughn came pretty close last year. He led the Tar Heels in rushing with 866 yards and three touchdowns on 198 carries. It was the highest rushing total for a UNC player since Jonathan Linton had 1,004 yards in 1997. Draughn also became the first Tar Heel with three 100-yard games in a season since Ronnie McGill in 2006.
Whether Draughn lives up to Davis' expectations will depend heavily upon how quickly the offensive line comes together. The Tar Heels have to plug holes at right tackle and left guard, and are in need of depth, as Davis wants a rotation of nine or 10 players in a game. He could be forced to play a few incoming freshmen to make that happen.
If everything comes together up front, though, Draughn could be one of a handful of 1,000-yard rushers in the ACC. After all, it's already got three returning from 2008 in Jonathan Dwyer, Darren Evans and Da'Rel Scott.