With the important month of June on the recruiting trail in the book and fall practice just a couple of weeks away, the attention has begun to turn to the upcoming season on the field. The Tar Heels are preparing for a crucial 2023 season in terms of their direction under Mack Brown after losing four straight to close the 2022 season. This offseason has seen a lot of roster turnover as the team searches for a second straight appearance in the ACC Championship Game and a stronger finish to the season.
To help you learn everything you need to know about this 2023 Tar Heel team, it’s time for our in-depth position previews. We will go position group by position group and break each one down for you, telling you the state of each room and who will be the major contributors. The first position group we will take a look at is the quarterbacks.
The Tar Heels boast one of, if not the best, quarterbacks in the entire country heading into this season. Redshirt sophomore Drake Maye was one of the nation’s breakout stars a year ago, throwing for 4,321 yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions and running for 698 yards and seven touchdowns on 184 rush attempts. His first ten games of the season were as good as any in college football and heading into the game against Georgia Tech, he was all but a lock to be in New York for the Heisman Trophy. In the final four games of the season, however, he failed to throw for more than 268 yards in a single game and posted a 4-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio as the Tar Heels fell from 9-1 to 9-5.
There is no reason to believe that he won’t bounce back, though, especially after a strong bowl performance and an offseason to grow. Mack Brown talked multiple times in the spring about the areas that he has seen Maye grow and he credits a lot of that to special assistant Clyde Christensen. Adjusting to new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey will be the biggest key to success for him, though.
Brown really liked what he saw from Maye in the new system in the spring and the hope is that those around him will step up and not put it all on his shoulders again this year. He lost his top two receivers from a year ago, but the team went out and made some tremendous addition in the transfer portal to fill those shoes. The tight end group might be the best of any in the conference and a healthy running back room should be a big help this season and take pressure of him in the run game. It all comes down to what the offensive line can do in front of him. If he gets the offensive line play that he got in the first ten games of the season then he’ll have a good chance to have a special season. If not, there could be some ups and downs for him and this team.
Redshirt freshman Conner Harrell will back up the future first round pick after he won the competition for the job in the spring. The former 4✮ prospect quickly dispatched of true freshman Tad Hudson and showed the staff some nice promise for the future in the process. While the spring game was a bit of a struggle (6-15, 37 yds, 0 TD), he clearly did something right to end that battle so quickly and deserves a benefit of the doubt. The tools are there for Harrell to play this year if for some reason it was needed and he will be the favorite to replace Maye whenever he leaves.
Hudson will be third on the depth chart as he settles into the college level. He brings another strong arm to the quarterback room, but still has a lot of room for development. This year will give him some time to grow and he could be the guy that benefits the most from the tutelage of NFL coaching veteran Clyde Christensen, who joined the staff as an assistant earlier this offseason.
Even the deeper depth in the room is in really good shape. Junior Jefferson Boaz hasn’t seen any significant reps to this point, but he has enough talent to be a backup quarterback for the team if they ever needed him to fill that role. Sophomore Russell Tabor is the lone walk-on in the room and rounds out the roster.
Projected Depth Chart
#10 Drake Maye, So.
#15 Conner Harrell, RFr.
#12 Tad Hudson, Fr.
#14 Jefferson Boaz, Jr.
#16 Russell Tabor, So.