Larry Fedora had a successful debut as North Carolina's head coach in 2012; his team won eight games and beat N.C. State for the first time since 2006, but the program was denied a bowl berth because of NCAA sanctions. The Tar Heels are no longer encumbered by such restrictions, and if they find sufficient replacements in a few key areas, they could compete for a Coastal Division title in 2013.
North Carolina's spring game begins at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday and will be available on ESPN3. The school has some special festivities planned -- Bernard will be honored as the nation's top punt returner during the first quarter, and the program also has new uniforms to unveil.
Quarterback Bryn Renner returns and brings a lot of experience with him, and he'll have standout tight end Eric Ebron to target as well as Quinshad Davis, who led the team in receiving last season as a freshman. But Erik Highsmith, who was UNC's third-leading receiver, has been lost to graduation. The Tar Heels also lost running back Giovani Bernard, who ran for more than 1,200 yards in 2012 and finished the year fourth on the team in receiving yards.
Perhaps most importantly, UNC has some rebuilding to do within its offensive line. Fedora and company have to replace a trio of departing starters, including guard Jonathan Cooper, who could be a first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.