CHAPEL HILL Receiver Todd Harrelson made the biggest catch of his career in last year's Music City Bowl - a 28-yard reception with less than a minute left in regulation that kept the Tar Heels' drive, and hopes, alive.
If the junior wants to make another catch, though, it will likely need to be an interception.
With starting cornerback Jabari Price scheduled for surgery today to repair a tendon in his left hand that he injured Tuesday, and coaches unsure how long he will be sidelined, Harrelson switched to corner during Thursday's practice.
Although he was recruited to play receiver, he was a second-team all-state defensive back at Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake, Va.
"College is probably a little faster than when I played corner in high school, but it's really not that much of a difference," said Harrelson, 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. "I just need to learn the playbook, and I should be OK."
During the first 45 minutes of practice, Harrelson played mostly with the second team. Freshman cornerback Tim Scott was playing with the first team, along with sophomore Tre Boston, who had switched from cornerback to safety but looked comfortable playing corner again.
"I'm willing to do whatever my team needs me to do. ... I feel natural at both, I feel like I can do both," Boston said.
Defensive backs coach Troy Douglas said he would like to ultimately keep Boston at free safety, because "he's so athletic, so physical, and that's where he's practiced mostly now. ... He's a good corner, but I think he could be a great safety."
Complicating the situation, too, is the status of senior corner Charles Brown. He sat out last season as part of the NCAA's investigation into academic misconduct and impermissible benefits, and must also sit out the Sept. 3 opener before he returns to the starting lineup.
A learning moment
Asked if he'd been keeping up with situation in Miami - where booster Nevin Shapiro, now serving 20 years in federal prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme, claims he provided Hurricanes players with prostitutes, cars and other gifts over the past decade - coach Everett Withers said, "a little bit."
"I think all this stuff for college football is lessons to learn about a lot of things," he said. "We have our own issues. One of our mottos is, 'Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.'
"So we're trying to learn from our issues, and we'll take whatever comes out of the Miami issues and teach and learn from that, so we don't make those mistakes."