Normally after a loss this season, the most important questions for Mack Brown on a Monday have revolved around what went wrong with a certain unit of his team that had a rough outing in the previous. While those questions still needed to be answered on Monday, the biggest focus of the Tar Heel football world was on the status of quarterback Sam Howell.
Howell, the Tar Heels standout junior quarterback who has put together another stellar season under center, was rumored over the weekend to have hurt on the final play of the game the other night against the Pittsburgh Panthers when he landed hard on his left shoulder following a heave into the driving rain on 4th and 10 as he desperately tried to keep the Tar Heels hopes of a win against the Panthers and a path to the ACC Championship Game alive. Rumors about the injury ran amuck over the past few days and Mack Brown stepped in to clear some things up on Monday morning. “Sam will be with the doctors this week and see if he can practice,” Brown told the media earlier today. “He wants to play Saturday. If he can, he will. He feels like he will be 100% for next week, but he and the doctors will make the decision, day-to-day, and (it’s) a game day decision of if he’ll play this weekend or not.”
That wasn’t the only newsworthy thing that he said regarding Howell, though. In discussing the list of players that will be honored during this weekend’s home finale against Wofford, Brown all but confirmed that Howell will be leaving at the end of the 2021 season likely to pursue an NFL career. “This will be his last game in Kenan Stadium,” Brown said when mentioning Howell’s name amongst those that will be honored on Saturday. That would lead you to believe that he has already made the decision to leave early and enter his name into the NFL Draft, meaning these next few games will likely be the end of Sam Howell’s illustrious Tar Heel football career.
The hope is that Howell can play on Saturday or at least start the game before being pulled out so that he can get the fitting send off that he deserves in front of the home crowd that has seen him do some amazing things since he took over at quarterback as a true freshman in 2019. If not, though, there is at least a good chance that you could have him for the rivalry matchup the next weekend against the NC State Wolfpack as he looks to complete the career sweep against them.