UNC football needs offensive line depth. This Ivy Leaguer in the transfer portal could help

·3 min read
South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jordan Burch (3) tries to evade North Carolina Tar Heels offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu (75) during the second quarter of the Duke's Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium on Dec 30, 2021, in Charlotte. With Ezeudu and two other starting linemen declaring for the NFL Draft, UNC football is hitting the transfer portal to replace them.
South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jordan Burch (3) tries to evade North Carolina Tar Heels offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu (75) during the second quarter of the Duke's Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium on Dec 30, 2021, in Charlotte. With Ezeudu and two other starting linemen declaring for the NFL Draft, UNC football is hitting the transfer portal to replace them.

UNC football is still trying to beef up its offensive line for 2022.

The Tar Heels hosted former Harvard tackle Spencer Rolland on campus for an official visit last weekend as they try to retool a position group that’s lost three of its five 2021 starters to this spring’s NFL Draft.

Rolland entered the transfer portal last summer, ahead of his fourth and final season at Harvard, and initially committed to Penn State for the 2022 season. But after earning 2021 First Team All-Ivy League honors last fall, the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Rolland decommitted from the Nittany Lions in November.

Rolland’s recent re-availability drew the attention of UNC, which had its share of offensive line depth issues in 2021 and has already signed one lineman, former Miami center Corey Gaynor, from the portal.

And the recent NFL Draft declarations of left guard Joshua Ezeudu, right guard Marcus McKethan and right tackle Jordan Tucker have made offensive line an even greater positional need for the Tar Heels.

Rolland, whose weekend visit included a stop at the Smith Center for UNC basketball’s home win over Georgia Tech, has two years of college eligibility remaining. He appeared in all 10 games for Harvard last fall, taking most of his snaps at right tackle and clear the way for the Ivy League’s No. 2 scoring offense.

Rolland signed with Harvard in 2018 as a two-star recruit out of Apple Valley High School in Saint Paul, Minn., where he also played basketball. He redshirted in 2018, appeared in all 10 games in 2019 and didn’t compete in 2020, since the Ivy League canceled its football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

That gives Rolland two remaining years of eligibility and makes him an intriguing option for UNC. The Tar Heels finished as the ACC’s No. 3 rushing offense in 2021 (212.6 yards per game), but they surrendered 49 sacks, worst in the conference, and finished a disappointing season at 6-7 overall and 3-5 in the ACC.

UNC has been active in the transfer portal since, officially signing Gaynor and former Virginia edge rusher Noah Taylor last month. The Tar Heels have also briefly courted other transfers including former Kansas and South Carolina cornerback Karon Prunty (committed to N.C. A&T), former Missouri defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo (LSU) and former James Madison wide receiver Antwane Wells (South Carolina).

According to InsideCarolina’s Don Callahan, UNC has also been in contact with former Vanderbilt offensive lineman Tyler Steen, a three-year starter who played at both tackle positions for the Commodores. Steen’s hearing from schools in every Power Five conference, his father told 247Sports.

Noting UNC’s transfers

North Carolina wide receiver Emery Simmons (0) strides into the end zone for a touchdown past Georgia State safety Chris Bacon (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.
North Carolina wide receiver Emery Simmons (0) strides into the end zone for a touchdown past Georgia State safety Chris Bacon (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

Twelve UNC players have entered the transfer portal since August, per 247Sports.

Here’s a full list of those players and their next destinations.

IOL A.J. Beatty: entered portal Aug. 9, committed to Albany

WR Khafre Brown: entered portal Oct. 18, committed to South Florida

DL Clyde Pinder Jr.: entered portal Oct. 21, committed to South Florida

RB Josh Henderson: entered portal Oct. 25, committed to Indiana

WR Emery Simmons: entered portal Nov. 2, committed to Indiana

DL Kristian Varner: entered portal Nov. 2, committed to Georgia Southern

WR Beau Corrales: entered portal Dec. 2, committed to SMU

LB Eugene Asante: entered portal Dec. 2, committed to Auburn

LB Tyrone Hopper: entered portal Dec. 22, committed to Missouri

CB Trey Morrison: entered portal Dec. 31, committed to Oklahoma

WR Stephen Gosnell: entered portal Jan. 3, committed to Virginia Tech

LB Trevion Stevenson: entered portal Jan. 13, committed to Norfolk State

Chapel Fowler is a recruiting reporter for The Fayetteville Observer and the USA TODAY Network. Reach him by email at cfowler@gannett.com or on Twitter at @chapelfowler.

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: UNC football, Mack Brown recruit Harvard transfer Spencer Rolland

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