The safety position for the Tar Heels might be the one with the most questions heading into the summer and earlier this evening, the picture got a little cloudier.
As first reported by On3 Sports, senior safety Don Chapman has entered the transfer portal. He played in 43 games in the past four seasons with the team, starting 20 games, all at safety. He started four games in his true freshman season in 2019 before becoming a full-time starter in 2020. He lost his starting job midway through the 2021 season and only started one game in 2022 due to injuries ahead of him. He finishes his career with 136 total tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, three interceptions and eight pass deflections.
Even though he wasn’t a starter for the better part of the last two seasons, Chapman was an important rotational option. He was set to play a similar role again this season and took important snaps in the scrimmage on Saturday. With no concrete starters set at the two positions, there was a chance that Chapman could have earned a starting job again this season for a team that badly needs answers at those two spots.
His departure puts even more pressure on the other veterans to step up. Graduate senior Giovanni Biggers started all 14 games a year ago, but he is battling for his job after lacking consistency for a secondary that allowed the most passing yards for a Tar Heel team since 2003. Junior Ja’Qurious Conley is back from lower body injuries that cost him nearly all of 2022, but he had a quiet spring. Even sophomore Will Hardy, who flashed late last year, is still fighting to become a full-time starter after being limited in fall camp. Georgia Tech transfer Derrik Allen might be the player that benefits the most from this and could now be a factor in the race to start at one of the two spots.
Chapman wasn’t exactly a game-changer by any stretch, but he is another guy that has played significant reps last season in the secondary that has departed. At the end of day, this might be what is best for this defensive backfield, but continuing to lose people at those safety spots isn’t helping the unit.