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Why UNC receivers wore bathrobes while warming up

Ryan Switzer, sans bathrobe he’d worn during warmups, celebrates the Tar Heels’ 37-36 comeback victory against Pitt on Saturday.
Ryan Switzer, sans bathrobe he’d worn during warmups, celebrates the Tar Heels’ 37-36 comeback victory against Pitt on Saturday. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Bug Howard's girlfriend bought him his, he said, a loving gesture if there ever was one. Ryan Switzer, he found his down near North Carolina's cryotherapy chamber. And Mack Hollins?

“I don't know where Mack got his,” Howard said.

He was speaking after the Tar Heels' dramatic 37-36 victory against Pittsburgh on Saturday night. It was a victory that ended in sweet chaos for UNC, with players sprinting on the field afterward to celebrate, to bask in the jubilation.

And it was a victory that began with Hollins, Howard and Switzer in bathrobes. The whole thing was Hollins' idea. Fitting, perhaps, given that he keeps pet snakes and carries a briefcase – containing who knows what – into the locker room before every game.

Switzer explained the bathrobe thing like this:

“Mack kept saying people were sleeping on us.”

Other props could have illustrated Hollins' point. Pillows, maybe. Teddy bears. Blankets, perhaps.

The bathrobes worked, though. More than an hour before the game began, Hollins, Howard and Switzer came out of the locker room wearing the loose, flowing robes. They warmed up that way, Switzer said, “for about five minutes.”

“And it ended up being too hot,” Switzer said. “So we took it off.”

Alas, the robes weren't around long on Saturday. Just long enough to be noticed.

Long enough for Hollins, Howard and Switzer to make their point. Much had been expected from that trio entering the season. After three games, Howard said, he and his fellow receivers felt as though “a lot of people do sleep on us.”

“We feel like we're the best three receivers, or four – add Austin Proehl in there, in the country,” Howard said. “We just wanted them to show that they ain't going to sleep on us after this game.”

Mission accomplished, probably. Switzer tied a school and ACC record with 16 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown. Howard finished with 66 yards on six receptions, two of those for touchdowns – including the game-winner with two seconds remaining.

Hollins, who left late in the game after suffering an injury, finished with but one catch. It went for a 39-yard touchdown, though. And so, combined, players who warmed up in bathrobes on Saturday caught four touchdown passes, including the one that gave UNC the lead with two seconds remaining.

Switzer, in particular, had never had a game quite like the one he had on Saturday night. Then again he'd never worn a bathrobe during warm-ups, either. Same thing for Howard. He'd never caught a game-winning touchdown pass before Saturday night.

Then he wore a bathrobe in warm-ups and caught two touchdown passes in the final six minutes. And so maybe this shouldn't be a one-time thing for the bathrobe boys.

“We might do it,” Howard said, smiling, asked if they'd continue to wear robes before games. “We're going to take it to Florida State.”

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