North Carolina defensive tackle Ethan Farmer has been practicing with the team throughout the preseason, but it's unclear whether he'll play when the Tar Heels open the season on Saturday at home against Liberty – or whether he'll play at all this season.
Farmer's status is in question because of an undisclosed eligibility issue. UNC coach Larry Fedora said on Monday that he hadn't received any clarity of Farmer's situation or when it might be resolved. Asked if he anticipated knowing anything before Saturday, Fedora said, “I'd love to.”
“But I don't anticipate anything,” Fedora said. “It's out of our control, so I don't – I don't know the speed of it. Nobody has indicated to me it'll happen one way or the other. So I have no way of knowing. We're preparing both ways, actually. Which makes it a little bit tougher.”
If he's eligible, Farmer, a senior who played well toward the end of last season, could start at defensive tackle. If he's ineligible, Nazair Jones, a redshirt freshman, would start in his place. Jones, it should be noted, might start either way.
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Still, losing Farmer would be a blow to a position group that also lost Shawn Underwood and Greg Webb before preseason practice began. Both Underwood and Webb were lost due to academic reasons, and their departures have left the Tar Heels thinner up front.
Andrew Carter is the UNC athletics beat reporter for The News & Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow him on Twitter at @_andrewcarter .