The revelation of DeAndre Boykins's season-ending lower-body injury was one of the oddest that we have seen. Less than an hour before kickoff against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Charlotte on Saturday night, the junior was declared out for the season with a lower-body injury.
Boykins, who went down injured in the middle of fall camp, is coming off his first season as a starter where he started all fourteen games at nickel corner, which the Tar Heels call the STAR. He finished fourth on the team and second among defensive backs in tackles a year ago with 67 but had his ups and downs in coverage. His interception to seal the victory against Miami was one of the biggest defensive plays of the entire season, but his 724 yards allowed in coverage were the most in all of college football in 2022.
With Boykins out, the STAR role now lies with Alijah Huzzie, who had a good performance out of the spot on Saturday night. The junior, who transferred in from East Tennessee State in the offseason, finished tied for second on the team with eight total tackles on the night and registered the team’s only official pass breakup.
He admitted when meeting with the media on Tuesday that it did take him a little bit of time to adjust to the different communication that it takes to play in that nickel corner spot, but that he was able to settle in as the game went along. Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik was very complimentary of Huzzie when he spoke on Monday. “He’s got the ability and knack to take on more than one position. Everybody’s not built that way, but he is.” Chizik did say that Huzzie will be utilized at both corner and nickel this season, but it’s hard to imagine that he won’t play almost exclusively in the slot if the team can avoid getting beat over the top on the outside.
Other Notable Things From Week 2 Depth Chart:
The OR that was next to Kobe Paysour’s name has been removed after another strong performance on Saturday night. It is unfortunate how it happened, but Nate McCollum will now have to battle for snaps as that second slot receiver behind what might be the team’s best pass catcher.
Willie Lampkin will remain at right guard, but Jonathan Adorno is now the backup left guard behind Ed Montilus. Montilus is being monitored this week by the staff after sustaining an injury early in the game on Saturday, so it could be Adorno starting against Appalachian State.
Elijah Green being the No. 3 running back after what he did for the team late last season was a shock last week, but he has fallen even further this week. Caleb Hood has swapped spots with him, meaning Green now sits fourth in the pecking order right now in that room.
Chris Culliver has made a jump on the wide receiver depth chart, hoping over fellow true freshman Christian Hamilton. Culliver is a deep threat that has a lot of similar attributes to Dyami Brown and he could become a factor here before the season is over if Tez Walker can’t play.