2012 Football: Romar ready to roll in Chapel Hill
By Ryan Bisesi
CHAPEL HILL — Salisbury grad and UNC running back Romar Morris likes to build up his stature with sophomore Giovani Bernard. Morris points out his muscle mass and his height as well as lightning-quick speed which earned him the Post-appointed nickname “Zoomin’ Human.” Bernard relies on last year’s exciting freshman year that featured the first 1,000-yard season for a running back since 1997.
Because of Bernard’s breakout season, he’s slated to get the bulk of the carries for the Heels this year.
But don’t sleep on the former Hornet, who’s right behind him on the depth chart.
“He thinks he’s bigger than me,” Morris said. “I say I have more muscle tone then he does. We like to play around about that.”
The playful back-and-forth continued between the pair at Carolina’s Media Day, including which player had the better accolades. Soon the talking will end and Morris will have to prove himself to the ACC, which carries a bit more prestige than the CCC. He’ll get his first carries in an official college game on Sept. 1 against Elon after redshirting his first year on campus.
Morris wore the colors and helmet for all the games last season but never left the sideline. It was tough to watch at the time but Morris has gained a new perspective after getting acclimated with the program and learning the ropes. Morris, a state 2A track champion in the 100 and 200 meters, had to take it slow this time.
“Learning from the older guys is going to help me my whole career,” Morris said. “The coaches are telling me to keep working hard because I’ve got great tools…”
Aside from taking in everything he could, Morris gained mass. Morris weighed in at about 190 the last time he stepped on a scale. That’s 15 more pounds then when he checked in last spring fresh off dominating the turf at Ludwig Stadium. He took his frustrations out in the weight room and then at the spring game, reaping the benefits by scoring three touchdowns. On one occasion he took a dump-off pass from Bryn Renner and broke a tackle from Rankin at the goal line to score his first touchdown since his high school days. He showed some versatility by running nine times for 40 yards and caught three passes for 35 yards.
Suddenly the wide-eyed freshman from a small city in the southern Piedmont had set up himself up for something special.
“It gave me a lot of confidence,” Morris said. “I know I can actually do it now.”
After the coming of age in the spring game, Morris is excited to put the light blue uniform back on, even if it is just for the team picture. It means he’s another step closer to playing in games that count again. He says he’s counting the days until the opener when he enters Kenan Stadium, which is now about to enter single digits.
“He catches the ball really well,” said new UNC coach Larry Fedora. “We’re going to be able to do some things with him out of the backfield.”
Fedora will implement an up-tempo spread package that averaged 36.9 points a game at Southern Miss in 2011. Renner is back for the Heels in addition to receiver Jheranie Boyd and Bernard.
Morris had a dream senior year at the prep level, helping Salisbury to its first state championship while amassing 1,780 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground.
Morris and Rankin never came out victorious against West Rowan’s K.P. Parks while at Salisbury. A chance for redemption in college looms this year. All three stand to get significant playing time in an ESPN Thursday night game on Nov. 15. Last time UNC went to Charlottesville, the Heels won for the first time on the road in the series since 1981. Last year, Parks ran for 98 yards in Chapel Hill in UNC’s 28-17 win.
“Me and K.P. were always going at it in high school,” Morris said. “He’s always got the better hand of me. Hopefully this year I can get the better hand.”