"A Championship Mentality"

When he was hired, I didn’t know that much about Mack Brown. I knew who he was, of course. I knew he’d had big success at Texas, and I knew he had coached at North Carolina previously. But as far as running the program or what he was like personally, I didn’t know that much about him.

So it’s been a learning process over these past few months. And what I’ve learned is Coach Brown wants the best from everyone and wants to do it the right way. He’s told us he is trying to put us in the best position to win right now.

One of the first things he told us when he met with us as a team was that he was going to make some improvements around the Kenan Football Center. That might seem like a little thing. But over the summer, we’ve already seen those improvements – our locker room is going to be one of the best in the country, and the weight room is going to be so much better. We know that those are big assets for recruiting, because all recruits look at facilities.

But what people might not understand is how much trust those improvements create with the current team. He told us what he was going to do, and he did it. Those little things create the trust that makes us believe everything he tells us.

Even as someone who has had so much success and is in the Hall of Fame, he’s so easy to relate to. He can talk to you about anything, and he really listens to you. He hears what you have to say, and he thinks about it. If you have ideas about things that will make the team or the program better, he wants to hear about it and wants to try and make it happen.

Coach Brown brings us a championship mentality, and that’s exactly what this program needed. There are guys on this team who haven’t even been to a bowl game. He knows what it takes to get there. He wants to teach us how to do the little things that will get us into the postseason and that will help us win some of the close games we’ve lost recently.

I love that approach. I played with great players when I was a young guy at Ohio State, and I saw how they operated. Now that I’m a veteran player, I’ve tried to model my leadership after those guys. I want to do everything I can at the highest possible level that I can do it. That’s what we have to do in order to reach that championship level. Everyone has to do everything at the highest possible level they can do it.

And of course, as a North Carolina guy, I love how much emphasis Coach Brown puts on the state of North Carolina. We have some of the best high school football players in the country. They have to stay here and play for Carolina. I always tell the in-state recruits that you play with a different amount of pride when you’re playing for your home state. When you’re representing your state against the rest of the country, it feels like you against everyone else, and you play so much harder. This is where I’m from, and I can’t let this place down.

We have the facilities at Carolina and we have the coaching staff. We’re going to get the best players, and they’re going to be developed as players and people. We have what we need to be successful for Carolina football. This year, we want to go out and show what we can do.