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Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Offseason spotlight: North Carolina

By Heather Dinich
ESPN.com

Our offseason spotlight series continues today with North Carolina. A reminder: This series features individual players, position groups and coaches who really need to have big offseasons -- starting this spring.

Spotlight: Receivers.

2011 Summary: Dwight Jones was one of the best receivers in the ACC and led UNC with 85 catches for 1,196 yards and 12 touchdowns. Erik Highsmith, who returns for his senior season, was second on the team with 51 catches for 726 yards and five touchdowns. UNC had the No. 1 passing efficiency in the ACC under first-year starting quarterback Bryn Renner, and he and Jones had one of the best connections in the league. UNC ran the ball more than it passed last year.

The skinny: There will be many more opportunities for the receivers in Larry Fedora’s first season, as his offense will use three or four at the same time. North Carolina has to replace its top pass catcher from a year ago in Jones, but the Tar Heels have recruited well at the position. T.J. Thorpe led the league in kickoff return yardage, and he’s likely to get a lot more looks in this system. Jheranie Boyd can stretch the field and has been pretty explosive at times, but he can really flourish in this offense. Reggie Wilkins and Sean Tapley are sophomores who will also be given more opportunities.