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Heel Tough Blog: Sam Howell Heads to the NFL Draft


Jason McCollum

It may have been expected, but it is now reality. Earlier this evening, Tar Heel quarterback Sam Howell announced via a video that he posted on social media that he was heading to the NFL after a record-setting three seasons in Chapel Hill.


The Tar Heels lose their most talented quarterback in program history after three historic seasons. The touchdown that he threw in Thursday’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl gave him at least one touchdown throw in all 37 of the games that he played in while at the college level. Howell finishes his career as the holder of 21 different school records, including the career records for passing yards (10,283), passing touchdowns (92) and total offense (11,292). Howell threw for at least 3,000 yards in each of the three seasons that he was on campus and totaled at least 3,600 yards of total offense and 35 total touchdowns in those three seasons as well. He finishes his career inside the top ten in ACC history in passing yards (5th), passing yards per attempt (2nd), adjusted passing yards per attempt (1st), passing touchdowns (3rd), passing efficiency (2nd), total offense (7th), total yards per play (7.6) and total touchdowns (5th). The Tar Heel will not only be replacing a school legend but one of the best players in ACC history.


Howell will now turn his focus to impressing NFL front offices ahead of April’s draft. As of right now, the experts are all over the place on his stock and where he lands. Many seem to have him as the fourth or fifth quarterback off the board, but they are split as to whether or not they have him going in the first round or not.


As for the future of the quarterback position for the Tar Heels, we got a bit of a preview of what life without Howell was like against Wofford back on November 20th when Jacolby Criswell and Drake Maye split the time at the spot with him sidelined due to a shoulder injury. Those two will likely spend the majority of the offseason battling at the spot for the starting job and based off the performances of the two in that game in November, Maye should head into the battle with the slight edge. True freshman Conner Harrell will be on campus starting later this month and Jefferson Boaz will also return at the position to establish depth.


With the way that the Tar Heels have recruited the position over the last few seasons, it’s hard to feel concerned about the direction of the position for the program. However, Howell’s shoes might be the toughest to fill in program history.


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