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UNC optimistic on defensive front

The defensive front was an area of concern in 2013 that lost its biggest star, and yet Larry Fedora still thinks there’s cause for optimism. “We have quite a few guys we feel comfortable with in the rotation.” That list starts with Norkeithus Otis, who returns at UNC’s bandit position as the team’s most fearsome pass rusher. Behind Otis, Fedora believes Shakeel Rashad is ready to blossom. (ESPN.com)

Mariners move hot-hitting Dustin Ackley to leadoff spot

In 11 games since the All-Star break, Ackley is hitting .444 (20 for 45) with seven doubles and one triple. Ackley says he won’t change anything — he’ has done it enough to know that you can’t do that and hit leadoff. He won’t be trying to channel Rickey Henderson. “In Triple A, when I started leading off, I think it was kind of getting those thoughts out of your head,” he said. (Seattle Times)

Fedora, Doeren & Cutcliffe compare their six packs

Following last week's "Kickoff" event in Greensboro, various coaches from the conference went through the ESPN carwash. While Florida State's Jimbo Fisher was clearly the belle of the ball in Bristol, never underestimate the power of shirtless beach photos to steal some of the spotlight and go viral. North Carolina's Larry Fedora did exactly that when ESPN's Brett McMurphy highlighted one of his daughter's beach photos on Twitter. (WRAL Sports Fan)

Football Still Shaping Mike Morton

Former UNC linebacker Mike Morton made 214 tackles for A.L. Brown high school as a senior in ‘89, an extraordinary performance that would put him on the road toward a Super Bowl ring. The 42-year-old Morton’s life isn’t all football — he was a very good baseball player, he’s a devoted family man, and he’s a successful Kannapolis dentist — but it was football that shaped what’s happened to him and for him. (Salisbury Post)

UNC Switch Shooter Nate Britt Relishing Summer Preparations

Nate Britt’s shooting background is interesting to say the least. But he’s changed his mind on his shooting hand after struggling with his accuracy from the field last season. But Britt says it wasn’t his decision alone to make the switch. It was a group call made by his father and coaches. Britt acknowledges that the news may come as a shock to most of the public, but he says it’s no big deal for him personally. (Chapelboro.com)

Malik Simmons Models Swagger After Deion Sanders

UNC cornerback Malik Simmons says confidence is crucial for the cornerback position in particular. "It's usually a lot of one-on-one," said Simmons. "So if you feel like the man in front of you is better than you, then usually he'll beat you." Simmons had 47 tackles in 13 games at UNC last season. He says he models his game, and his swagger after Deion Sanders. (WINK News)

UNC building on surge that capped last season

The Tar Heels won six of seven to finish the season, including a 39-17 victory against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, a hot streak that has them as a chic pick to win a wide open Coastal Division in Larry Fedora’s third year with the program. That’s not to say he’s got an experienced group, however, with only six seniors projected in the starting lineup. (Roanoke Times)

Stats don't do Darian Durant justice

The CFL's quarterback efficiency rating can paint an incomplete picture. Case in point: Darian Durant. The Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback had an efficiency rating of 59.7 on Saturday, when the Green and White dismantled the Toronto Argonauts 37-9. Durant's rating was at least twice as high in eight of the games the Roughriders played last season en route to winning the Grey Cup. (Regina Leader-Post)

Confident Mike Morin shows his value as Angels reliever

Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked a few days ago if rookie reliever Mike Morin gained confidence from a strikeout of Miguel Cabrera. He shook his head and chuckled a bit. Morin, he explained, is not lacking confidence. An example off the field, one that occurred way before he was even drafted by the Los Angeles Angels, perfectly illustrates Scioscia's point. (FOX Sports)

Video: Larry Fedora Goes Through ESPN's 'Car Wash'

Larry Fedora went through the 'Car Wash' at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut on Monday. Follow the Tar Heel head coach around as he was interviewed live on SportsCenter and close to a dozen other ESPN shows. View Video...

Big Four Breakdown: North Carolina

The experience of a super-young team rallying to save a season gives Larry Fedora a wealth of game experience on his depth chart. Returning almost all of his scoring, along with continuity at kicker and punter is nothing to smirk at. Even without the services of Eric Ebron and Co., expect the Tar Heels to be considerably better in 2014, no matter the signal-caller. (Raleigh & Company)

ESPN Top 100 College Football Players: Ryan Switzer

99 (tie): Ryan Switzer, North Carolina Tar Heels, Wide receiver/returner, Sophomore: He was one of the most electrifying punt returners in the country. Switzer tied an NCAA record and set the ACC record with five punt returns for touchdowns. He became just the second player in NCAA history to do it in three straight games. (ESPN.com)

Q&A with Larry Fedora, Part V

Marquise Williams talked about the improved commitment from everyone on the team. Have you noticed a culture change with the players? Larry Fedora: "The culture has changed. That was a big part of when we came here feeling like there were things in the program that we needed to change. Not so much that it wasn’t good, for what we expected as coaches there needed to be a culture change." (Inside Carolina)

Vigil, memorial planned for slain professor Feng Liu

The UNC-Chapel Hill community will hold a vigil Wednesday and a memorial service Saturday to remember Feng Liu, who was killed last week during an alleged robbery. Two men have been charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery in Liu’s death. (Chapel Hill News)

Jackson Simmons Seeking Strong Finish

Jackson Simmons’s senior season at North Carolina has finally arrived and he’s intent on providing even more contributions on his way out. “The road is coming to an end; this is my senior year,” Simmons told reporters recently at the Smith Center. “There are a lot of things that we want to accomplish that a lot of these guys in here [wall photos of former Tar Heels] have put up in the rafters.” (Inside Carolina)

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