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New Opportunity in Old Role

Chapel Hill – Backups are an injury away from becoming the new starter as redshirt sophomore Nick Appel found out as he steps in for the injured Brennan Williams.

“It’s exciting,” the Virginia native said. “It’s not always fun to have a teammate go down but it’s an opportunity to get in the spotlight and get some work done.”

After bouncing around between guard spots his first two seasons, the 6-6, 310-pounder moved to his old position at tackle where he played at Arlington (Va.) Bishop O'Connell.

“My freshman year I was at left and right guard. Last year I was at left guard and then towards the end of the year I was going back and forth. Now I’m at right tackle just because of the overall numbers and with familiarity.

“The first day when Coach Kap came in, he was asking everybody where they felt the best and it just worked out for me to be at the right tackle spot behind Brennan.”

And it hasn’t taken long for him to feel comfortable at his old position.

“I feel like I’m getting better every day,” he said. “As a team we had a rough start just with the new offense and defense trying to put all these new schemes in. It’s going to take some time but I feel like by the end of the spring we’ll be fine.

“I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. Coach Lou Hernandez is in here and he’s pushing us hard and we’re very glad to have him here. I was about 320 but I’m down to 310 right now which is where I’m wanting to be at.”

With Williams out for the rest of the spring, Appel will have time to work with the first team unit. It’s an opportunity that he doesn’t plan to give up easily.

“My goals for the rest of the spring are to just keep the spot even if Brennan does come back. You love your teammates and you want them to succeed but I want to keep the spot even beyond spring."

Competition aside, Appel added that Williams had been tremendously helpful in getting him up to speed as his backup.

“He not only helps me verbally but just watching him a lot in practice…backing him up and watching his reps from behind the play just helps me out more. He also did help me a lot in the playbook.”

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