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Heel Tough Blog: Tar Heels Add Familiar Face at QB From the Transfer Portal

NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton

As spring practice was winding down, and the second transfer portal window was set to open up, Mack Brown made it known that the Tar Heels would be active in the portal looking for a QB to add to the roster for the 2024 season. That might’ve surprised Tar Heel fans, considering the team is in the middle of a QB battle, between Connor Harrell, and Texas A&M transfer, Max Johnson. But shortly after the transfer portal opened up, Tad Hudson, a redshirt freshman QB entered the portal, meaning that Carolina’s third-string QB, would’ve been a former recruit, who wasn’t included in ESPN’s top 300 players. 

After a quick search of possible transfer QBs to bring into the program, they landed on a familiar face, in former Tar Heel, Jacolby Criswell, who transferred to Arkansas, but will now return to Chapel Hill for the 2024 season. Criswell left for Arkansas, in hopes of being the starting QB of the Razorbacks, but after KJ Jefferson exercised his ability to return for last season, that opportunity never came to fruition. Last season, Criswell completed 17 of his 27 passes for 143 yards, with 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. In Arkansas’s season-ending blowout loss to Missouri last season, Criswell was 12-20 for 96 yards, and a touchdown, with a 116.8 rating, but just a 9.5 QBR. In his career, Criswell has attempted just 58 passes but has thrown for almost 350 yards, with 4 touchdowns, and just one interception. 

Criswell spent three seasons in Chapel Hill, serving as the backup to Sam Howell, before losing the QB battle to Drake Maye, so it made sense why he transferred out of the program because he was never going to play over two of the best QBs in Carolina’s history. He started against Wofford at the end of the 2021 season, and he completed 11 of his 19 passes, for for 125 yards. He added 66 rushing yards in that outing and one rushing touchdown. 

We’ve seen this before in the transfer portal era, where guys ultimately end up where they originally started their college career, and Criswell is another example of just that. While his stats won’t blow you away, Brown and his staff achieved what they set out to do in the transfer portal, which is add an experienced QB to the roster, in case an injury were to pop up for either Harrell or Johnson. 

It’s been over a week since Carolina held their annual spring game, and there was no indication coming out of spring practice that Mack Brown was ready to name a starter for the 2024 season, meaning that competition will carry over into training camp, which will begin later this summer.


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