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UNC's Draughn hoping for more carries in '09

4/22/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

North Carolina junior tailback Shaun Draughn wasn't shy about his goals for this fall. He told offensive coordinator John Shoop, "I want Donald Brown carries this year."

(For ACC fans unfamiliar with Connecticut's Brown, he led the country in rushing last season with 2,083 yards on 367 carries. Draughn, a part-time starter last season, had 198 carries.)

Shoop wasn't shy in his response: He told Draughn to hit the weights.

Draughn, who led UNC and ranked sixth in the ACC in rushing last year with 866 yards, has since bulked up from 205 pounds to about 215 and said he's got a better grasp of the offense heading into summer camp. This will be his first season as a full-time starter, but he's hoping for more carries in what should be another crowded ACC backfield.

"I understand the plays more, and understand the blocking schemes," he said. "I felt more experienced this year.

"The pressure's on, but it's nothing we can't handle. It was sort of on me last year when they called my name to start. I still produced."

Draughn made the move from safety to tailback last summer, and started the final six games of the season there. He and Ryan Houston took the snaps with the first team in UNC's spring game, but there might be too much depth in the Tar Heels' backfield for Draughn to get his wish, and that's a good thing.

UNC coach Butch Davis has also said he would prefer to have three tailbacks he can depend on, and that's due in part to help extend their durability at the next level. Davis might have found his three this spring.

Houston is a bruiser and gave the team a boost off the bench last fall, and was used in short yardage situations. His team-leading eight rushing touchdowns were the most by a Tar Heel since Chad Scott also ran for eight in 2004.

The Heels also have Johnny White, who is one of the fastest players on the team. And a player to watch this fall will be Jamal Womble, a redshirt freshman who caught the coaching staff's attention this spring. He's got a low center of gravity and a powerful burst, and should be No. 3 behind Draughn and Houston.