LELAND, NC (WWAY) -- Everett Withers was introduced as the interim head football coach at the University of North Carolina on Friday. At the news conference it took less than 30 seconds for Withers to credit a man who lives in Brunswick County. In fact Withers mentioned Mel Foels four times before he mentioned anyone else.
"I always wanted to be a Tar Heel growing up," Withers said early in his news conference in Chapel Hill. "When I was in high school Mel Foels was an assistant coach at Carolina. Mel Foels came to my high school one day. I was excited that Mel Foels was there that day, because he was a Carolina football coach, but Mel was there to tell my coach that I wasn't fast enough to play at Carolina."
Foels currently lives at Magnolia Greens in Brunswick County. He's no longer coaching. Instead he enjoys the life of leisure playing golf and hanging out with his grandchildren at the swimming pool.
"As a defensive back or running back I just felt like he was a little bit slow for what we were looking for at that time," Foels said Friday night.
When the Tar Heels and Foels turned down Withers, he decided to play his college ball at Appalachian State instead. In Boone Withers played for three head coaches, including Mack Brown, who later coached at North Carolina and now at the University of Texas.
"Mack Brown started my tremendous passion for this game," Withers said, "so if you fast forward, this day is really surreal to me."
Foels is confident UNC made the right selection in promoting Withers to the interim head coach position, but Foels was surprised that Withers mentioned him at Friday's news conference.
"No question," Foels said. "You don't know when you recruit a young man what type of impact you'll have on him. I just can't believe he mentioned my name, and that's part of coaching. When you get into it you want to have some type of impact on young men and hopefully help them along the way. What I had to say about him hopefully helped him a little bit as far as getting him to work harder and that type of thing and making him the success that he is today."