|With starting QB Reynolds out, Charlotte turns to Dom Shoffner|
|49ers travel to No. 11 North Carolina|
|Published Tuesday, September 15, 2020 6:00 pm|
|CHARLOTTE 49ERS ATHLETICS|
|Aaron McCallister returned an Appalachian State kickoff for a school record 97-yard touchdown in Charlotte's 35-20 loss last week in Boone. The 49ers travel to No. 11 North Carolina Saturday.|
Coach Will Healy announced that the junior transfer would replace starter Chris Reynolds at No.11 North Carolina (1-0). Reynolds sustained an upper body injury in the season opener on Sept. 12 at Appalachian State. Charlotte lost 35-20, during which Reynolds had 10 carries for 34 yards and hit 11-of-30 passes for 140 yards and two interceptions.
“He’ll be out indefinitely,” Healy said Tuesday. “He had an upper body injury on the first play against App, tried to fight through it. He is tough as nails. I found out about it Sunday in the staff meeting. We sent him to some doctors yesterday to get him checked out. He’ll be out this week. Dom Shoffner will be our starting quarterback. 2020 is going to be a ‘next man up’ mentality. [Defensive end] Markees Watts is another guy who is questionable for Saturday. He went out in the second series last week against App. Those are two all-conference type players who are either banged up or out.”
Healy would not expand on the nature of Reynolds’ injury, and he’s been sidelined for the duration.
“I really don’t want this to be something down the road that people know about him and go after it,” Healy said. “I’m not saying coaches do that, but for me, it’s an upper body [injury]. It’s something that is going to prohibit him from playing this week. We’re going to get him checked by some doctors over the next couple weeks, and figure out how quickly we can get him back, and how safely we can get him back. Obviously, he wants to play. He’d play without an upper body. He’s a competitor. He showed it on Saturday again. He’s one of the toughest I’ve ever been around. We’ll miss him, but we’re excited about Dom having an opportunity.”
Healy said heading into the season that he slept better at night knowing Reynolds was Charlotte’s starter compared to this time last year when Reynolds was fighting for the spot. While they entered the season with certainty at the position, the 49ers enter familiar territory of uncertainty at the most important position. However, Shoffner allows them to explore having a true dual threat quarterback.
“This why we took Dom—in case something happened to Chris,” Healy said. “Dom’s prepared like the starter. He’s done some really good things, and we’re excited about having a chance to watch him play on Saturday. He’ll get a bunch of reps this week. We’re going to figure out what he feels comfortable with and design an offense around him. Our mentality on offense is going to stay the same. We’ve gotta run the football. We have to be explosive in the pass game.”
Shoffner transferred from Monroe College, a junior college in the Bronx, New York. He started out at North Carolina Central and signed with Charlotte in December. At Monroe, he threw for 2,488 yards and 27 touchdowns in a single season. He also ran for 441 yards and 14 touchdowns to earn all-Northeast Football Conference offensive player of the year.
Shoffner played in six games at NCCU, throwing for 350 yards and rushing for 128 yards. Healy said Shoffner wanted to give himself a shot at the FBS level, rather than stay with the Eagles, an FCS program.
“Everybody you talk to about Dom loves him—high school coaches, college coaches,” Healy said. “We called all those people to check on him. We needed a culture piece, and a culture fit, especially when a guy has to come in and compete with Chris. We knew who our starter was going to be. Having a team guy was really important. Dom’s been everything we could hope he would be and more.”
The 49ers will have their hands full with North Carolina in the first meeting ever between the programs.
“Now you go and play, in my opinion, what has been the hottest team in the country over the last 12 months,” Healy said. “Coach [Mack] Brown has been exceptional to me. He’s an incredible person. He’s an unbelievable football coach. I’ve leaned on him more in the last six months than I have anybody else, including asking for advice yesterday. He’s unbelievable. He’s been through it all. It’s a lot of fun for me watching somebody like him enjoy his job as much as he is right now in Chapel Hill. The way their team plays, their confidence, their swag. It’s amazing what he’s done in 14-16 months there.”
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