The last time a North Carolina player competed in University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, things turned out pretty well.
In April, the UNC men’s basketball team won the NCAA basketball championship there, defeating Gonzaga 71-65. For that team, the man wearing No. 3 – Charlotte native Kennedy Meeks – had the play of the game. He blocked a Gonzaga floater and passed it to a streaking teammate, who ran untouched the length of the court and put the game away for good.
Can another former UNC No. 3 have the same success?
The Dallas Cowboys hope so. Their punt returner, Ryan Switzer, was a fourth round selection out of UNC in April’s NFL Draft. Switzer finished his career in Chapel Hill as the school’s all-time leading receiver with 2, 907 yards. He also scored 19 receiving touchdowns in his four years with the program.
But Switzer first made his name not as a receiver, but as the nation’s most dangerous return man. His freshman season with the Tar Heels, he returned five punts for touchdowns en route to All-America honors. That also tied an NCAA record for punt return touchdowns in a season. He would score two more punt returns over the next three years and have numerous others called back.
Now Switzer is a backup receiver and the lead punt returner for the Cowboys, who play the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night. He’s yet to record an NFL catch and has two punt returns for 19 yards so far this season. But if the Cowboys are lucky, maybe another former North Carolina No. 3 will have the game of his career in University of Phoenix Stadium.