We resume our series of the strongest and weakest positions for each team in the ACC with North Carolina:
Strongest position: Defensive backs
Key returnees: Deunta Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, Kendrick Burney and Charles Brown
Key departures: Melvin Williams
The skinny: This might be the deepest position/unit in the conference, as North Carolina returns 14 players who were defensive backs a year ago, including all four starters. UNC was 14th in the country last year in both pass efficiency defense and pass defense. Both Burney and Williams opted to return to Chapel Hill instead of enter the NFL draft and the Heels will be better for it. They combined for 11 interceptions and 314 interception return yards in 2009. Burney had five interceptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns, while also recording 52 tackles and three pass breakups. Williams led the team with six interceptions for 114 yards and had 47 tackles and eight pass breakups.
Weakest position: Offensive line
Key returnees: T Mike Ingersoll, G Alan Pelc, C Jonathan Cooper
Key departures: Kyle Jolly, Lowell Dyer
The skinny: The staff’s goal this spring and summer is to find the biggest and most athletic players up front. Cooper, the top returning player on the line, played guard last year as a redshirt freshman and will move to center this spring. That’s where the staff had hoped Cooper would wind up when they first signed him. Cam Holland will likely be relegated to a backup role. The staff recruited well at the position and will get some help immediately from James Hurst, the top recruit in the class. Both Hurst and T.J. Leifheit have already enrolled. Travis Bond started the bowl game at guard, and with Pelc, Bond and Cooper on the interior, this group could get a much-needed upgrade.