Months ago I came to you with my concerns about asking profit earning student-athletes to do things deemed too risky for traditional students during a global pandemic.

Despite recognizing the NCAA for the socialist organization it is, I was also honest with you about my desire to see UNC play football. Regular readers know my passion for Tar Heel football and this year had the potential to be special, and therefore, heartbreaking.

Maybe you’ve heard but for Carolina fanatics like myself, the season has been anything but heartbreaking.

First and foremost, kudos to Mack Brown, his staff and mostly the players for being COVID free throughout the season. Lots of teams struggled with outbreaks and UNC did not. They were smart and disciplined.

The offensive line has continued to improve throughout the year. When paired with what is clearly an abundance of skill position talent on offense in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels have been really exciting to watch.

Carolina has a quarterback, two running backs and at least two wide receivers that will not only play on Sundays, but are likely to shine. The quarterback and the entire offensive line are expected to return in the fall.

If UNC football wants to maintain continuity and improve as quickly as possible, it will be essential that they retain these two young and impressive coordinators.

Given their success, that will be easier said than done.

The defensive side of the ball is young and its improvement as the season has progressed has been most evident to me. Not only are the starters playing better but the depth behind them has progressed quickly.

Several true freshmen are now starting or playing significant minutes and their success will pay major dividends in two years. By then they’ll be juniors and even more impressive than now.

Their early playing time and “shine” now has also helps recruit new exceptional talent. The freshmen next year will be even better than the ones this season. I gotta believe the exposure of playing in the Orange Bowl against a top five Texas A&M program will help recruiting as well.

Despite what I said earlier about the offensive line and improved play on defense, I have some serious concerns about matching up with the Aggies on the line of scrimmage.

Still, Texas A&M has a legitimate argument about being included in the College Football Playoff and North Carolina has another opportunity to find out how they compare against some of the best.

David Friedman is a long time sports writer and lifelong believer that BLM. David can be reached via e-mail at fourthandlongcolumn@gmail.com.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.