UNC running back Shaun Draughn spoke with reporters Wednesday afternoon about returning to the North Carolina lineup. Naturally the fifth-year senior is thrilled to be back in the rotation and is excited for Saturday's contest at Rutgers.
"It felt real good. It felt good to be back with the boys," said Draughn. "The little things you take for granted---just being in the locker room with the guys---I thank God for being back."
Draughn was vague about several topics, and refused to answer no less than four different questions about his role in the NCAA investigation and his thoughts on the fairness of the proceedings taking place.
The first question he wouldn't answer was whether or not he thought he was held out unfairly.
"That's a question I'd rather not answer. We can talk about football, but that's a question I'm not going to answer," he said.
Then he refused to publicly announce exactly why he was held out of the season opener Labor Day weekend against LSU---although he admitted he was given a reason.
"They did (give me a reason why I was held out), but that's something I'm not going to talk about," he said.
Draughn also refused to answer questions about what, if anything, he had to do along the lines of punishment to get back onto the field for the Georgia Tech game.
"That's something I'd rather not talk about," he said. "I'm here to talk about football. That's what it is."
Draughn confirmed he found out last Monday that he was returning---the same day that media members were informed of his release---and that he was told by a member of UNC's staff.
"It might have been (Director of Football Operations) Corey (Holliday) or somebody (who told me)," he said.
Given the fact that he missed most of November last fall and the Meineke Car Care Bowl after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury, it was a long time coming for Draughn to get back onto the field, and he relished the opportunity this past Saturday.
"I was talking to Johnny (White) when we were in the hotel on Friday night, I was telling him it had been 10 months since I played a football game, so I was definitely ready to go out there and just be out there with the guys," he said.
White stole the show Saturday against Georgia Tech, leading the Tar Heels with 113 yards on seven carries, while Draughn had just six carries for 22 yards.
"He (White) did what he had to do. I was very proud of him," Draughn said.
Obviously it was quite difficult for Draughn to miss the must-anticipated season opener against LSU---although he indicated he did make the trip to Atlanta and watched the game in the stands.
"It was hard (not playing)," he said. "I was out there to support the guys---that was the main thing."
He's proud of his teammates who have been on the field for the way they've persevered through this entire situation.
"They've played hard and that's all that the coaches asked them to do," Draughn said.
"For me, it was a hard thing to watch, but it was still good to watch my teammates go out there and play how they know how to play."
While it's naturally difficult to block out all the many distractions, Draughn did say he and his teammates are trying not to spend a lot of time dwelling on all the suspensions.
"We try not to (talk about it much)," he said. "We try to just focus on the goal, which is winning games."
Draughn spoke briefly about the tutor who is at the heart of the University-regulated academic investigation taking place alongside the NCAA inquiry.
When asked if he was specifically related somehow to the tutor, he said that as a member of the University's athletic academic support staff, a significant majority of the football team at some point in time had contact with her.
"The tutor was a part of the program so eventually everybody probably worked with her," he said.
He's not surprised that the tutor isn't fully cooperating---as multiple sources have hinted.
"(I'm) not (surprised) at all. It is what it is," he said.
Draughn also spoke a little about Chris Hawkins, the former UNC player who appears to be a central figure in the NCAA's investigation into possible wrongdoing regarding agents and specific players.
"Everybody knows 'Hawk.'" said Draughn.
"Him and 'Willie P' (former UNC running back Willie Parker) they come and work out every summer, so he was around the guys."
"He (Hawkins) played here before, so he was close to the guys," Draughn continued.
Draughn made it clear that he never took any trips with Hawkins, as it appears other UNC players have.
"I didn't take a trip with Chris," he said.