Fifth-year senior defensive backs Kendric Burney and Deunta Williams have all the collegiate playing experience anyone could ask for, with over 70 combined career starts between them heading into their final runs this fall at North Carolina.
Even with Williams missing the first few minutes of practices this spring due to mid-afternoon class commitments, he and Burney are once again assuming major leadership roles for the Tar Heel defense.
"Our defense, we're trying to move to the next level," said Williams.
"We're trying to do all the things that got us where we're already at and then push us to the next level."
"We're just doing things to come together," he added. "We've been training together and going hard together. We've got this sense about that."
Burney and Williams, who are already well known for bringing spontaneity and a certain spirit to North Carolina's practices with their 'Rude Boys' creation earlier in their careers, are looking to rev up the level of competition this spring---especially since it's their last go-around at UNC.
"We feel like we've got the talent to push each other to the limit, so if we just come out here and have fun we'll be all right," Burney said.
"We feel like this spring is going to be more competitive, and adding an actual Spring Game to it, it's just 'amping' everybody up and I definitely think we're going to be ready for it," he added.
"You've got to realize it's our last go-around," said Williams.
"We came in as a group---as a unit. A lot of guys came in (in 2007) under Coach (Butch) Davis, and a lot of guys came in under (former UNC head) coach (John) Bunting, and so the guys that came in under Coach Bunting, we all redshirted and stuff like that."
"Once we merged with Coach Davis's group, we all had a pact that we're going to come out and we're going to do what we've got to do and we're going to leave winners, in whatever sense that makes," Williams added.
"It just feels good to have those guys beside you and playing with you, especially on the defense---we're full of that---so it just feels good to know these guys, go to parties with these guys and hang out with these guys, and now (in spring practice) we're out there making plays together, so it just feels good," he continued.
"You've got talent all around you. There's big-play capability at every position, offensively, defensively, and special teams," Burney said.
Along with playing an important role in helping bring along some of their younger teammates who will be replacing them in the coming seasons, Burney and Williams have also served as mentors to UNC redshirt freshman quarterback Bryn Renner.
Burney shares a familiar path with Renner---having tried his hand with the UNC baseball team back in 2008. Renner is currently playing baseball but focusing exclusively on football on those days when the Tar Heels are practicing.
"I know how hard these next couple of weeks are going to be (for Renner). I know from experience exactly what's he's going through," Burney said. "I know exactly what days he's going to be feeling certain ways."
"Like I said, I've been there through it, and we have a great relationship, so I'm definitely looking forward to sitting down and talking to him and helping him out," he added.
"It was good to see Bryn out there---he's been with baseball---out there (in football practice) throwing that thing," Williams said. "On offense, we're just competing."
Williams says that right now he and the team aren't focusing a whole lot on LSU---the highly-anticipated season-opening opponent in Atlanta September 4 in the Georgia Dome.
Right now their sole focus is making themselves better over the next three weeks.
"To be honest, we don't even talk about LSU," he said. "The only time we hear LSU is from the media or from a fan on Facebook or something leaves you a message. We try to focus not on that type stuff and just focus in on us and improving ourselves."