UNC running back British Brooks out for season; Tar Heels lose another starter to injury

·2 min read
Robert Willett/rwillett@newsobserver.com

North Carolina lost its second offensive starter within the past week on Saturday when senior running back British Brooks suffered a lower body injury during practice that will sideline him for the entire season, according to the school.

It’s a devastating blow for Brooks, who entered school as a walk-on, earned a scholarship and became a key player on special teams while biding his opportunity to play at running back. He was poised for a breakout season after he led the Tar Heels in rushing in the last three games of last season — including a career-high 124 yards against N.C. State — and earning the starting spot.

Carolina will also be without receiver Antoine Green for six to 10 weeks. Green suffered a shoulder injury in a scrimmage on Aug. 6. Green and Josh Downs are the only wideouts with big game experience for Heels in a position that isn’t very deep.

UNC is deep at running back, but Brooks’ absence almost guarantees that at least one of its freshmen will be in the rotation. UNC coach Mack Brown had just praised George Pettaway and Omarion Hampton on Monday for having a good scrimmage.

Brown has said he’d like to use three running backs this season after primarily using just two to share the workload the past three seasons.

Junior D.J. Jones is now the Heels leading rushing returning from last season. Jones had 253 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry in nine games. Jones has battled injuries his entire time on campus, but said this was the healthiest he’s been since arriving in Chapel Hill.

Sophomores Elijah Green and Caleb Hood are also vying for playing time. Hood appeared in seven games last season and rushed for 97 yards and a score. Green appeared in five games and had 39 yards on 11 carries.