As we move from the offensive to defensive side of the ball, we first check in with the defensive line.
Carolina loses two NFL draft picks from their starting line in first-rounder Kentwan Balmer and seventh-rounder Hilee Taylor but that shouldn’t stop the Heels this season as they have one of the best interior defensive lines in the conference.
DE E.J. Wilson
44 Total Tackles
9.5 Tackles for Loss
5 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble
Wilson started 12 games for the Heels last season and with Taylor gone the Heels will need big time production from this Junior help their interior line.
Wilson had 44 tackles last season and that number should increase since both Balmer and Taylor led him in that area in 2007.
Wilson finished second on the team last season in sacks, had two fumble recoveries and forced a fumble. Who ever is on the other side of the line will need to help Wilson this season if the Heels want to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
DT Marvin Austin
26 Total Tackles
6 Tackles for Loss
4 Sacks, 0 Forced Fumbles
The former 5-star high school defensive tackles played in all twelve games for the Heels last season and started three of them showing the fans why Austin was so highly recruited coming out of high school.
The experience Austin gained as a freshman will prepare him for this upcoming season as the Tar Heels will need him to anchor the line stopping both the run and the pass.
Marvin has all the speed, athleticism, and desire needed to become one of the elite defensive tackles in the nation and if Butch can develop his talent, Austin could become his first All-American at Chapel Hill by next season.
DT Aleric Mullins
19 Total Tackles
3.5 Tackles for Loss
2 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble
Mullins developed nicely last season, going for 19 tackles and 2 sacks.
With a strong line of defensive tackles including run stopper Cam Thomas, Mullins should be pushed this season to perform even harder or he may be pushed into the back of the rotation in 2008.
Whether is be Mullins or Thomas that starts next season, the inside line of the Tar Heels is a formidable foe. Mullins is capable of getting to the quarterback, closing running lanes, and wreaking havoc on opposing offenses.
DE Darius Massenburg
11 Total Tackles
1 Tackle for Loss
0 Sacks, 0 Forced Fumbles
Massenburg is also one of Davis’ young, developing talents.
Massenburg had 11 tackles last season and is very good at both stopping the run and pass.
He may see less time on the pass as backup Darius Powell is a very talented speed rusher. With the line having so much potential, the players will need to live up to the hype this season if Carolina wants to contend for a championship.
Thats your 2008 UNC Football defensive line. Up next, the biggest question mark for the Tar Heel’s defense, the linebackers.