UNC Football: Tar Heels offense will look a lot different in 2017

UNC’s offense will look a whole lot different in 2017 and we have reached a crucial point in the program’s progress

Get ready for a new-look North Carolina Tar Heels football team in 2017.

On Monday quarterback Mitch Trubisky officially declared for the 2017 NFL Draft, forgoing his senior season in Chapel Hill. Trubisky becomes the second player in the last three days to put his name into the NFL Draft, joining running back Elijah Hood.

The Tar Heels have just lost two more big offensive weapons, just adding to the total from the offseason.

UNC will lose a lot of production on offense this offseason as they prepare for the 2017 season ahead.

Receivers Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard and Mack Hollins will all leave due to graduation. The trio had 279 receptions, 4,178 yards and 33 touchdowns combined in the last two seasons for the Tar Heels.

Switzer had a big season in 2016, finishing with 1,000-plus yards receiving. Hollins missed the final six games of the year due to injury.

Now the Tar Heels will turn to a receiving core headlined by current junior Austin Proehl. The Charlotte, North Carolina product finished with 43 receptions for 597 yards and 3 touchdowns this season.

He helped pick up the slack when Hollins went down.

Proehl will be joined by receivers Thomas Jackson and Jordan Cunningham as the top guys heading into Spring Practice. Cunningham was a transfer from Vanderbilt and still has a year of eligibility left after sitting out a year.

Then there’s the running back unit.

Sep 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels running back T.J. Logan (8) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the third quarter of the 2016 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game at Georgia Dome. Georgia won 33-24. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back T.J. Logan (8) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the third quarter of the 2016 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game at Georgia Dome. Georgia won 33-24. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Senior T.J. Logan is graduating and the Tar Heels were stunned by Hood’s decision to change his mind and enter the draft. That leaves them in a bit of a bind.

Freshman Jordon Brown will likely be the starter going into the Spring but he will have some competition. UNC currently has two recruits at the position in their 2017 class in Antwuan Branch and Michael Carter.

Both are expected to receive a good amount of playing time in their freshman seasons.

With three guys ready to step in, the production of Hood and Logan will be tough to match. The two gave UNC a good one-two punch in the running game using Logan’s speed and Hood’s size to punish opponents.

Yet, it never really matured the way head coach Larry Fedora envisioned.

With the Trubisky announcement, comes the tough part of replacing the most important position on offense. When Trubisky replaced Marquise Williams, he had some experience. He didn’t start games prior to 2016 but he had 125 attempts.

Now the Tar Heels will have a competition to see who will replace Trubisky but none of the quarterbacks really have any experience at all.

Freshman Nathan Elliott had just 9 attempts in 2016 and was a three-star recruit out of Texas for the Tar Heels. Then there is fellow freshman Chazz Surratt, a four-star recruit who originally committed to Duke.

The Tar Heels were able to sway Surratt to UNC and now he might have the chance to run this offense for the next few years.

Then there is Malik Zaire.

The Tar Heels are still in the running for the Notre Dame transfer who is reportedly down to UNC and Wisconsin. With the Trubisky decision, UNC may now have the upper hand. But Zaire hasn’t revealed anything new and is keeping everyone waiting.

Landing Zaire will certainly help UNC’s chances in the ACC Coastal Division next year but either way it’s going to be a rebuilding year for coach Fedora.

Now is a crucial point for the program. How will they do? Stay tuned.

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