With North Carolina a little over a week before the start of its 2011 season, senior running back Ryan Houston is still on the mend, while junior linebacker Kevin Reddick has so far enjoyed an injury-free summer as one of the anchors of the UNC defense.
TarHeelIllustrated.com reporter Ben Doster spoke with both Houston and Reddick recently following practices.
How are you feeling?
"Oh I'm feeling great. I'm feeling good. I'm ready to get back on the field. I'm on the field, but not full-contact yet, but I still feel good. I'll be ready."
How much longer do you think you're going to have to wear the orange jersey?
"I'm not really in a rush. If we had a game today I'd play. I'm ready, but we're just going to take our time. We don't me to go out there, and reinjure it, and have to wait more time. I'm just taking it day by day."
"Speed I'd say. Travis and Romar both have great speed, and great vision to be so young. They just need a little guidance. It was just like my freshman year with me, (Anthony) Elzy and Johnny (White) it was kind of hard."
"We were just all young, and we didn't have anybody to tell us what to do. Now for me to be the older guy and tell them how to run the plays, be more patient on runs, be able to scan the defense, I'd say they're going to be real good, because they have an older person to teach them the tricks of the trade."
What about A.J. Blue, how do you think he can best help you guys?
"A.J. is like a dual threat. He was a quarterback coming in. He's got great vision as a quarterback, so running back wise his vision is unbelievable. Just for him to come to our running back crew is a great asset."
Where do you think the offensive line is right now?
"Oh the offensive line is tremendous. They had a great spring, and they've had a great training camp. I feel like they're ready to go. I'm just trying to teach all of the running backs to be patient and trust the blockers."
Your time here is almost over. Is that something you talk about with your fellow seniors, guys you came in with?
"Yeah definitely. Last year it was almost our time to go. Now it's like this is really our last time, so we're all talking about this is our last time to go around. We all want to go out with a bang."
You're a few weeks into practice. Where are you guys at as a team, and then on defense?
"As a team I feel like we're good. We've got a lot of work to do. Still got time though, that's the great thing about it. I feel like we're progressing a lot more than we were week one, so it's moving on. Defense wise I feel like we're coming along just have to get more guys to step up. I feel like it's going to be pretty good."
If you look at the different competitions on defense, especially at linebacker do you feel like it's still pretty even, or is anyone standing out to you?
"It's still going good. They got Ebele (Okakpu) out there now, me, Ebele and Zach (Brown), so it's looking pretty strong out there with us. We just need to establish some backups."
On the freshman linebackers
"Norkeithus (Otis) is standing out a lot, fast, athletic, and Trav (Hughes) and Fabby (Desir), a lot of those guys are standing out. They just all have to stay consistent. It's kind of hard right now being freshmen, with them thinking a lot, having a lot, coaches yelling and all this stuff, but it's football, and all they have to do is zone that out, keep control and keep composed."