Yates, Hansbrough pitch in at Carolina Kids Classic
BY HAROLD GUTMANN
CHAPEL HILL — After constant battles to protect his starting position at North Carolina, T.J. Yates may have been an unlikely choice to become the first former Tar Heel to start an NFL game at quarterback.
Then again, it fit in with Yates’ ability to surpass expectations.
“Every single year that I’ve played, there’s always been a quarterback competition,” Yates said. “Going into the draft, people didn’t think I’d get drafted or anything, and then I got my opportunity to play and I thought I did a pretty good job to prove myself.”
A sixth-round pick by Houston in 2011, Yates started the final eight games for the Texans after Matt Schaub suffered a season-ending injury — including a playoff win over Cincinnati.
“I know there’s been some great quarterbacks to play here before me,” Yates said. “I’m very honored and proud to represent Carolina.”
Yates and fellow pro Tyler Hansbrough were at Finley Golf Course on Thursday to participate in the 24th Carolina Kids Classic golf tournament.
Event co-founder and longtime UNC announcer Woody Durham said that the stories of Yates and Hansbrough were a welcome contrast to the recent NCAA investigation that embarrassed the university.
“In this day and age, when you hear way, way too much about what Carolina is not about at the moment, these two guys represent what Carolina has been and always will be,” Durham said. “Because they’re two of the best personalities to come out of the athletic department in quite some time.”
Dean Smith was unable to attend on Thursday, but honorary co-chairman Roy Williams and former coach Bill Guthridge were on hand at the event, which raised $140,000 for the N.C. Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill and the Program on Childhood Trauma, a division of the Department of Psychiatry at UNC Hospitals.
Since its inception, the tournament has raised $3.4 million benefitting seriously ill and injured children who wind up in Chapel Hill.
“They have helped so many people in so many ways,” Guthridge said.
Hansbrough comes back to UNC every summer to train, but this was his first appearance at the event.
“I golf a little bit,” Hansbrough said. “I’m not going to set a course record out here, but it’s for a good cause.”
Temperatures in the mid-90s also didn’t dissuade Yates, who said it actually was cooler than it is in Houston. More than the weather, Yates said the speed of the game and the size of the playbook were the biggest adjustments he had to make when he entered the NFL.
“It was like I was studying for finals each night after practice,” Yates said.
Yates ended his UNC career with 37 passing records. He expects some will be broken now that rising junior Bryn Renner is running new coach Larry Fedora’s up-tempo offense.
“It’s going to be great,” Yates said. “I talk to Bryn all the time, and he’s really fired up — the whole team is. From what I hear, Coach Fedora has some of the best energy of any coach that they’ve ever been around. So everyone’s really excited, he pumps them up a lot and the new offense is going to be exciting for the fans.”
Still, as exciting as Fedora’s spread offense promises to be, Yates was happy to be in UNC’s pro-style system under Butch Davis.
“It would have been fun, but I was fortunate that the system that I played in related very well to the NFL,” Yates said.
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