This week, news trickled out that North Carolina’s starting tight end Brandon Fritts tore his ACL in spring practice. The timing, of course, isn’t optimal; the injury could reportedly cost Fritts his senior season in 2018.
As UNC heads into the offseason — with an old fashioned quarterback battle (stop me when you’ve heard this before — the injury could rob either Nathan Elliott or Chazz Surratt of a reliable option. That’s something of value for any quarterback.
Here’s what Brandon Fritts brings to the table.
In 2017, Fritts ranked fourth on UNC’s roster with 25 receptions, and second with four touchdown catches. Two of those touchdowns came in the early-season shootout with Lamar Jackson and Louisville. Anthony Ratliff-Williams was tops in both of those categories: 35 receptions and six touchdowns. Fritts doesn’t stretch the field much, vertically; for his career, the tight has averaged just 9.3 yards per catch.
However, Fritts is a fairly reliable receiver. Last season, Fritts caught 25 passes on 41 targets, according to Football Study Hall — a catch rate of 61 percent. That was tops on UNC’s roster, by a small margin, amongst the three receivers with 40-plus targets.
For his career, Fritts has caught 47 balls on 70 total targets, per Football Study Hall, which translates into a catch rate of 67.1 percent. Again, Fritts runs mostly high-percentage/shorter routes, but this is still pretty good.
As a junior, eight of Fritts’ 25 receptions came on third down, too: six of which converted into first downs, per cfbstats.com. Fritts has 15 career third-down receptions — 11 first downs.
Depth Behind: Who Steps Up
Fortunately for UNC, though: the Tar Heels have depth at the tight end position: Carl Tucker, Jake Borgas and Noah Turner.
According to Football Study Hall: Tucker caught six of his seven targets last season — for 100 yards. Borgas hauled in eight of 11 targets, 72 yards.