On the surface it might not seem like Mitch Trubisky’s decision is much of a decision at all. Trubisky, North Carolina’s fourth-year junior quarterback, is projected to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft.
He recently appeared on the back cover of the New York Daily News, which reported the New York Jets might want to make him the quarterback of their future. Trubisky is generating that sort of attention these days, and yet his teammates are waiting, too, to find out what he’ll do -- come back to school or leave.
Trubisky’s announcement will come sometime after the Tar Heels play against Stanford on Friday in the Sun Bowl.
“Man, we want to know, just like everybody else wants to know,” said Nazair Jones, the junior defensive tackle who has already announced his intention to enter the NFL draft. “So we’ll be excited to hear what he does when the game’s over. I’m not sure if he’s set a time or date or anything.
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“But we want to know just like you guys want to know.”
The Tar Heels on Wednesday practiced for the final time this season. After the team returned to its hotel, UNC coach Larry Fedora said he hasn’t been concerned about Trubisky’s focus approaching the bowl game.
“I think he’s taking a great approach to that next decision, and he’ll wait until after the bowl game to make it,” Fedora said.
Fedora said he didn’t know how quickly Trubisky, who this season has thrown 28 touchdown passes and four interceptions, would announce his decision after the Sun Bowl. His teammates are anxious to hear it, too.
Fedora just has to laugh: The Tar Heels made their way to El Paso on Christmas Day. A few days earlier, UNC received another installment of a gift that keeps on giving – another Notice of Allegations from the NCAA. This was the third NOA in a long-running NCAA investigation with no end in sight.
Fedora’s reaction? Laughter. It was better than crying, perhaps, and Fedora insisted the news brought him to laughter.
“It really did,” Fedora said. “It made me laugh. Because I have no control over it. And so it’s just kind of a laughable situation for me now. It’s been going on since the day I got here and it’s still going on and maybe it’ll be going on until the day I die. I don’t know.
“But I’m not sure something will happen eventually and I believe that we’ll come out in great shape.”
The NCAA’s investigation has focused on how bogus African Studies courses benefited athletes over a range of years. The courses ended before Fedora arrived at UNC, though he has been dealing with the fallout of the scandal since he became the Tar Heels’ head coach in January 2012.
“People don’t even ask about it any more,” Fedora said, asked whether the latest NOA might affect recruiting. “They just, I don’t know. It’s just so old. I don’t really know how to express it, because it’s just – it’s been going on forever.”
The mother of all road trips: Tammy Jones did say during a phone interview in October that she never misses one of her son’s games. And so she’s always there when Naz, the UNC defensive tackle, is playing – home or away. This, though, takes the travel to a different level.
Tammy Jones on Thursday was set to begin a 27-hour drive from Roanoke Rapids, to El Paso for the Sun Bowl. She’ll have some company, at least: T.J. Logan’s mom, Sheila, will be joining, along with some of Naz’s family members. The traveling party rented a van, Naz said on Wednesday.
“I’m pretty sure they’ll have to find some good music to ride to,” Naz said. “They’ve got a long road ahead of them, but that’s the kind of atmosphere we have with this family. Our guys and our teammates, all our families connect together. And that’s why it’s so sad to see this team come to an end.”
UNC vs. Stanford
When: 2 p.m. Friday
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Tex.