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Heel Tough Blog: 2022 Position Previews- QB

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

The Tar Heels are steaming towards their August 27th opener in Kenan Stadium against Florida A&M and we at the Heel Tough Blog are getting you ready the way that we always do with our in-depth positions previews. Today, we get you started by looking at the position group that currently has the most intrigue right now for the team in camp: the quarterbacks.

For the first time since 2019, the Tar Heels will open a season without Sam Howell under center. The battle to replace him was previewed late last year against Wofford where both of the guys currently battling for the job got the opportunity to showcase their abilities in a comfortable win for the team. The battle continued this spring without any real separation and now the staff and the two competitors are doing everything they can to create that over the next month.

Rich von Bieberstein- Getty Images

Third-year sophomore Jacolby Criswell is the veteran of the two and provides a similar skillset to the one that Howell had over the past few years. In that game against Wofford, he finished the game 11-19 for 125 yards through the air and 66 yards and a touchdown on the ground and he was even better in the spring game where he was definitely the better of the two. Wide receiver Josh Downs said after that spring game performance that he throws the best deep ball of any quarterback that he has ever played with. That is certainly one of his strengths, as is his running ability, which is very similar to the style that we saw from Howell last year. His experience in the system also can’t be discounted as he has spent each of the past two seasons backing up Howell, something that can’t be taken lightly. A lot of people came into the spring thinking that this wasn’t going to be much of a fight, but as Criswell has shown, that is certainly not the case.

Grant Halverson- Getty Images

Redshirt freshman Drake Maye is the guy that most people believe will inevitably win the job. In terms of pure talent and potential, he certainly holds the edge, but he certainly has had his work cut out for him so far. Maye got the best of Criswell in that game against Wofford last year, going 7-9 for 89 yards and one touchdown while also rushing for 38 yards on four carries, but wasn’t nearly as dominant as him in the spring game. This offense would probably look more similar to the 2019 and 2020 offense if he was to win the job, with Maye being more pocket-based than what we saw from Howell a year ago and what we expect to see if Criswell is the starter. His ability to spread the ball around to all different levels of the field and thrive in the quick passing game will also be a nice touch. This is a battle, though, that could carry over into the season if neither guy is able to separate.

Tar Heel Athletics

True freshman early enrollee Conner Harrell was a part of the battle back in the spring, but no longer appears to be in the race to start in fall camp. He showed some promising things throughout the spring and is a guy who projects to be a factor long term if he is to stay on the roster, showing some nice arm talent and solid mobility in the reps that he saw in the spring. The fact that he is the third-stringer for this group shows just how deep this room is right now.

@jeffersonboaz14- Instagram

Sophomore Jefferson Boaz is back as the fourth quarterback on the roster. He has seen limited action so far in his career, but has proved that if he was needed in an emergency situation, he would be capable of handling himself. Even with the departure of Howell, this remains one of the deepest overall quarterback rooms in the conference.

Jeffrey A. Camarati- Tar Heel Athletics

Redshirt freshman Russell Tabor will once again be the only walk-on in the room after spending all of last season in the room as the only one as well.

Projected Depth Chart

# 6 Jacolby Criswell, So.

#10 Drake Maye, RFr.

#15 Conner Harrell, Fr.

#14 Jefferson Boaz, So.

#16 Russell Tabor, RFr.


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