College Sports

Marquise Williams filled with optimism at UNC’s final practice

North Carolina coach Larry Fedora talks to officials on the sidelines before the start of the Tar Heels' final spring football scrimmage, at Rocky River High School in Mint Hill Saturday, April 11, 2015. (Nell Redmond photo)
North Carolina coach Larry Fedora talks to officials on the sidelines before the start of the Tar Heels' final spring football scrimmage, at Rocky River High School in Mint Hill Saturday, April 11, 2015. (Nell Redmond photo)

North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams did not let the hip injury that currently has him sidelined prevent him from enjoying his team’s final spring practice Saturday afternoon.

Williams and the Tar Heels practiced for two hours at Rocky River High in front of a crowd that filled most of the home bleachers. The former Mallard Creek standout is one of nearly 20 UNC players from the area, and Williams highlighted the importance of continuing to attract the city’s top local players.

“It’s always fun to come back and show fans love,” Williams said. “A lot of great talent is down in Charlotte. We try to pick up and get more recruits to come out and support us.”

Williams’ face also lit up when asked about how he is recovering from hip surgery. He said his recovery is ahead of schedule, and he is expecting to return to action in June instead of July.

Coach Larry Fedora said Williams’ optimism is one reason his staff will be keeping the quarterback on a strict pitch count.

“We have to be careful in these next four weeks because he feels very good,” Fedora said. “That’s the thing that you have to be careful about, because he feels so good that he goes beyond what he needs to do.”

The Tar Heels worked through a number of situations throughout the practice, opening up the playbook and running the two-minute drill, and also devoted a significant portion of the afternoon to special teams work.

One group that stood out to both Williams and running back Elijah Hood, who starred at Charlotte Catholic, was the offensive line.

“Those guys, they have grown tremendously this spring,” Williams said. “I’m excited to be back there with them this year, my last year. I wouldn’t ask for a better O-line. We have the best returning. I think they’re going to the best offensive line in the ACC and probably in the country, honestly.”

Strong line play paved the way for several impressive runs by Hood, who was among several players who drew praise from Fedora. In addition to the positive things he saw on the field, Fedora also was encouraged by the turnout.

“We have such a great fanbase in the Charlotte area,” Fedora said. “We’re going to open up the season here in Charlotte (Sept. 3, against South Carolina) to keep that excitement and that buzz generated throughout the year.”

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