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Football nears game week

By: Jesse Baumgartner

It appears there could be plenty more Kendric Williams-like stories on the North Carolina football team in years to come.

Williams made the news Saturday when new head coach Butch Davis announced that the senior walk-on was being given a scholarship with the program after showing well in special teams last season and at cornerback during training camp.

And Davis said Wednesday that he was very supportive of such developments.

"It's a great school, and we are going to give walk-ons a great opportunity," he said.

"Once they're on this football team, I legitimately could care less whether it's … Uncle Sam, the GI Bill, Mom and Dad or whether we're paying for it. Once they get here the best players are going to play, and they've got a chance always to win scholarships here."

The value of tight ends

With an untested freshman at quarterback, UNC's receivers figure to be a key part in making the offense run smoothly as T.J. Yates gets his feet wet against James Madison University.

When asked to discuss the potential production at tight end, Davis did some serious name-dropping - highlighting his coaching experience with tight-end stars such as Dallas Cowboy Jay Novacek and former Miami Hurricanes Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow and Bubba Franks.

"I think a tight end can be an enormous safety net, kind of a safety blanket for a quarterback," Davis said.

"Because they can really work the intermediate to short routes, and it's something we really want to try to develop."

Davis highlighted Richard Quinn and Ryan Taylor as UNC players who have shone promise at the position.

Culture shock

The coming of a big-name coach to a program in limbo usually results in a well-documented "culture change" that the newcomer tries to foster.

Davis appears to be no different in this regard and talked Wednesday about catching up to the rest of North Carolina athletics.

"I think it's a change that everyone wants," he said. "Ideally what you'd love for the perfect scenario is that for the football program to reach the level of all the other sports at this university.

"This university is committed to excellence."

Barth goes retro

After struggling his sophomore season, kicker Connor Barth rebounded big-time in 2006 by connecting on all 10 of his field-goal attempts with a long of 54 yards.

While most athletes would prefer to stay with a winning formula, Barth has made a change - in his appearance, that is.

The senior now sports a well-defined flatline mustache with some serious curl on the ends.

"I just said I was gonna do something wild this year," Barth said. "Kind of bring back the '70s look you know? Maybe a little Rollie Fingers style."

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