Trubisky hopes to finish season, and possibly collegiate career, strong against Stanford
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As he gazes over to his sideline and back to the field, junior standout quarterback Mitch Trubisky calls the play to his offense in a practice drill to prepare his Tar Heels for the Sun Bowl on Friday, Dec. 30. He does it with poise, energy and a spark.
The same spark that once stood on the sideline, like a firework ready to be lit, last season as he watched senior captain Marquise Williams take the snaps at quarterback. Williams led North Carolina to three straight bowl apperances from 2013-16 and broke the Tar Heels’ school record for touchdowns scored.
“It was difficult to sit out a couple of years and it was definitely a learning process for me,” Trubisky said. “Williams taught me a lot about life and the game, but it still took a lot of patience and hard work for me to get here today. I just kept cheering on my team and did whatever I could to help out my teammates. Even if you’re not the starting guy, you could continue to push your guys and make sure they are locked in. Those are the type of things I tried to do.”
And Trubisky waited and waited for his time.
After Williams graduated, Trubisky was given the reigns at starting quarterback for his junior season. During his first full year of starting for the Tar Heels, he became the lone holder of the school’s most passing yards with 3,468 in a season, and also threw for 28 touchdown passes, which tied the single-season record for UNC. His 68.9 passing percentage kept defenses on their toes all year long.
Not even he predicted to have the stellar season that he had this fall.
“I didn’t expect this and I didn’t know what to expect coming into this season,” Trubisky said. “I just know that I have waited my turn, and opportunities are limited, so I needed to take advantage of it. After the first couple of games, just getting my feet under me, being able to watch full games of film compared to limited in years before and trusting my teammates—all the success kind of took care of itself.”
Unlike Trubisky, Fedora has had faith in the Ohio native ever since his start. Trubisky led his squad to a 8-4 record and ranks among the top quarterbacks in college football statistically. Currently, he is fifth in the nation for completion percentage (68.9 percent), 11th for quarterback rating (161.0) and 12th for total passing yards (3,468).
“I’m not shocked about the season Trubisky is having because he has developed ever since he’s been with the program. He is patient and has worked hard to make sure he was our next guy, and that is hard to do when you are the second guy for two years. We always felt that when it was his time to take over, we would be in great shape.”
He stands as a major threat to the Stanford Cardinal defense, who happens to be a defensive core that has seen strong quarterbacks from the Pac-12, such as Luke Falk from Washington State, Davis Webb of Cal and Jake Browning of Washington.
“This is another great quarterback and every great quarterback is different,” Stanford junior captain and defensive end Solomon Thomas said. “He has an arm and he can throw, whether he’s running or not. He’s very poise the whole game and he can get the team going at any second.”
Now he stands as one of the most promising individuals in this matchup as Trubisky is regarded as one of the NFL’s top prospects. He is a must-watch player before he makes his decision on whether he will stay at UNC for his senior year or take his talents to the NFL.
“I’ll gather as much information as I could possibly get for him and his family, and then I’ll step back and let him and his family make an educated decision on his behalf,” Fedora said. “I’m very comfortable with what he’s doing and how he is doing it. He [Trubisky] has got a very well thought out process. I think we will know what will happen once the Bowl game is over.”
Despite the recent trend on skipping the bowl game to prepare for the draft, Trubisky claimed that he never looked back on playing this upcoming game. If the Sun Bowl is Trubisky’s last game in North Carolina blue, he wants to put on a show with his teammates and the school that brought him to the level he is at.
“This bowl game was a must-play to me. I feel like I don’t have anything to prove to anyone else, but myself,” Trubisky said. “I owe it to my teammates to play as hard as I can. I want to be remembered for how much I love this program and everything they did for me. It has been an honor and privilege to wear Carolina blue.”
The Sun Bowl will kick off at 12 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30.