For the second time this season, the Tar Heels are reportedly losing a member of the defense in the middle of the season to the transfer portal.
According to a report by Inside Carolina, true freshman defensive tackle Brant Lawless-Sherrill has entered his name into the transfer portal. Lawless-Sherill, the No. 256 overall player and No. 22 defensive tackle in the 2018 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, is transferring just 10 months after enrolling with the program after an initial transfer from the school his signed his letter of intent with, Tennessee, back in the 2018 class’ early signing period. Lawless-Sherrill was part of a group that was battling for reps at nose tackle in the spring, but was beat out for the backup role behind Aaron Crawford in the fall by Jahlil Taylor despite drawing a ton of praise in the spring from teammates and the staff. He wasn’t able to carve out a role at one of the 4i-techniques either, leading to him not playing a single snap for the Tar Heels during the 2019 season, meaning he is likely in line for a redshirt. Unfortunately, it appears as if that redshirt freshman season will not take place in Chapel Hill.
The Tar Heels will have the difficult task of replacing workhorses in Crawford and Jason Strowbridge, who have each played more than 1,000 snaps at their respective positions in the first ten games of the season. Adding Lawless-Sherrill to the list of departures won’t make that easier, but the group that will be looking to replace the production is still in pretty good shape. The two backups to Crawford and Strowbridge (Taylor and Xach Gill) are the early favorites to take over the roles, but the lack of starting experience means that others will definitely have a shot to make noise. Both Tomari Fox and Raymond Vohasek have split time at the 4i-tech opposite of Strowbridge and the Heels might look to put both on the field at the same time, meaning one could make the move over to the other side of the line. The true freshman class will also have a chance to make a lot of noise, especially the guys who enroll early. That doesn’t even count guys like Lancine Turay, Wisdom Asaboro, Kevin Hester and Kristian Varner, who will benefit from another year in the system.
The writing is on the wall for that this 2020 defensive line class is going to be a special one and it seems like that played a factor in why Lawless-Sherrill decided to make this move. The good news is that the Tar Heels still look to be in good shape depth wise across the defensive line. Losing talent is definitely not fun, but this isn’t a loss that should create much added unease about this 2020 defensive line unit.