CHAPEL HILL — Mitch Trubisky knows what some people might think that hes clearly behind Marquise Williams on the quarterback depth chart at North Carolina.
Trubisky understands that perception exists. After all, Williams ended last season as the Tar Heels starter, and he led UNCs turnaround after its 1-5 start.
Ive heard that some people think (Williams is) the favorite or that he still has the job, Trubisky, a redshirt freshman from Ohio, said recently. It is an open competition. He was given the job last year because I was redshirting and Bryn (Renner) went down. But as far as Im concerned, I have just as equal a right to be a starter this year as he does.
Whether Trubisky emerges as UNCs starting quarterback wont be determined until August, when preseason practice begins, if then. During the past few weeks of spring practice, though, Trubisky has attempted to put himself in a position to win the starting job.
Unseating Williams wont be easy. He started four of UNCs final five games last season all of them after Renner, a senior, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and Williams led the Tar Heels to a 4-1 finish, including a victory against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl.
Williams during that stretch perhaps exceeded expectations. His scrambling ability helped UNC overcome its suspect pass protection, and he gradually earned the trust of coach Larry Fedora and former offensive coordinator Blake Anderson.
Trubisky, though, has one thing going for him: He is considered the most talented quarterback prospect that Fedora has recruited to UNC. When UNC introduced Fedora as its head coach in December 2011, he quickly signed Kanler Coker, a quarterback from Flowerly Branch, Ga.
In the Tar Heels next recruiting class, Fedora turned his focus to Trubisky, who was named Ohios Mr. Football during his senior year at Mentor High School. When Trubisky chose to play at UNC, many expected him to be Renners successor though Williams performance last season quieted that speculation.
Trubisky said Fedora told him he would likely redshirt his freshman season.
And thats what we did, Trubisky said. They almost looked to pull it at the end of last season, but we ended up sticking with the redshirt and (Fedora) said the best mans going to play (this season). So if Im the best man, hes going to put me in the game no matter what year I am.
During spring practice, Williams and Trubisky have split work evenly with the first team, Fedora said. Thats likely to continue on Saturday during UNCs annual blue-white scrimmage, which will conclude spring practice.
Fedora last week hesitated to say whether the quarterback depth chart has changed an indication that Williams is still atop it but he made clear that theres an open competition for the position.
I dont think that weve had a change in the order right now, Fedora said. (Williams is) still getting the reps. But you know, we roll them. One guy gets reps with the ones starts the day with the ones and then the next day the other guy starts with the ones.
Fedora said it would remain that way an even rotation until somebody starts stepping out ahead of the other.
A year ago, Trubisky appeared likely to succeeded Renner. Trubisky graduated from high school early and participated in spring practice last year, and Fedora at times raved about how quickly he was picking up the offense.
Williams, meanwhile, didnt go through spring practice last year, and he wasnt enrolled in school. He instead served a suspension related to academics. Eventually, he worked his way back and worked to rebuild his relationships with his coaches and teammates.
Fedora has said he was surprised by Williams successful comeback but, even so, Williams hold on the starting job seems tenuous. As well as Williams played at times toward the end of last season, he said last week that he expected Trubisky to provide significant competition for the starting position.
Hes a guy that comes to compete every day, Williams said of Trubisky. I love competition. Competition thats been in my blood for I dont know how long, but hes a great guy and I love the way he pushes me and I push him.
Like Trubisky, Williams arrived at UNC a heralded recruit. A former standout at Mallard Creek High in Charlotte, Williams had to wait a while for his opportunity to become a starter.
He smiled last week when told of Trubiskys confident words.
I love it, Williams said. Its competition. Aint no harm. I know if I was in the same situation Id say the same thing. Hes a great guy and hes a competitive guy and I love it. And were going to be brothers regardless.
Regardless of what has transpired in spring practice and what will transpire on Saturday during the spring game the quarterback competition is likely to stretch on into the preseason. Williams has been trying to hold on to his position, while Trubisky has attempted to prove the competition is as open as he believes it is.
Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter