North Carolina right guard Travis Bond finds himself in a good place as the Tar Heels prepare to wind down spring football this Saturday with the annual Spring Showcase.
The 6-7, 335-pound behemoth finds himself the No. 1 player at his position and a player that could be in position to have a breakout year in 2011.
"It's going pretty good," Bond said about the spring season. "I know more of the plays. The O-line, we're all feeling one beat right now, so everything is going good. We look like the strong point of the offense so far (this spring)."
Bond joins fellow right-side player Brennan Williams as a rising junior that is stepping into a top role up front after two seasons as a key backup.
"It works great (with Williams). He's a powerful man. He blocks awesome. He knows the plays. Everything is just looking good for both sides," he said.
Having played in just about every game over the last two years, Bond is more than ready to step into his new spot as the first-string right guard.
"It'll help---having a veteran O-line, it will help throughout the whole offense," he said.
Bond feels he's at a place where he can challenge to become one of the best players in the Atlantic Coast Conference at his position.
With an NFL-ready body and ever-improving package of technique and strength, Bond has a chance to be a significant impact player for the Tar Heels in the trenches.
"I'm trying to make All-Conference and become an All-American lineman. I just want to go out there and play ball, have fun with it, and try to take it to the next level by making everyone better on offense."
Along with Williams, Bond joins quarterback Bryn Renner as another UNC third-year player that finds himself in a position to take on a much more prominent role.
Renner's role is naturally much more visible than Bond's, but anyone who knows football understands that Bond's performance will directly impact Renner's performance.
"We can help the quarterback more as he's helping us, like reading the blitzes and giving the running back more holes and more options for how to hit the hole and giving the quarterback more time," Bond said.
Like most everyone else who's been around him, Bond is impressed with Renner and the way he manages the game for the offense.
"He's taking it very seriously," Bond said of Renner. "He's come in and he's learning the plays a lot more. He's doing great, actually."
"His passing abilities are awesome, reading blitzes. Everything is going good for him. We've got confidence in him. We want him to do great things this season."
Carolina is excited about what Renner might be able to do to take the offense to another level, but at the same time Bond and the rest of the offensive line know that the Tar Heels have to get a whole lot better running the ball in order to become the type of team that can be a serious contender in the ACC Coastal in 2011.
"Yeah, through the years (I've been at UNC) I don't think we've had a 1,000-yard back, so this year the goal is to have a 1,000-yard back and to rush for over 150 yards each game," Bond said.
"Just having a better run game and pass game, it'll help the team out a whole lot this season," he added.
Averaging 150 rushing yards per game and producing North Carolina's first 1,000-yard back since Jonathan Linton back in 1997 are certainly no easy feats.
But Bond feels like this group of UNC linemen, which includes three returning starters in James Hurst, Jonathan Cooper, Cam Holland along with himself and Williams, is capable of plowing the way.
"It's possible because we've got the guys on the O-line that can do it," he said.
"They're physical, tough, smart, know what they're doing, and confident of their playing ability. So everything is coming into play, and we're trying our best to make sure our backs have a successful year."
"It's been fun and very competitive on the O-line and D-line, as usual. I mean, they're giving us a look and we're giving them a look, so everything is more competitive and more fun just playing with these guys," he said.