When Mack Brown has met with the media following games so far this season, the biggest personnel news has been about the injuries that have piled up a bit early in the season. With the team as healthy as it has been, the biggest piece of roster news on Monday was the fact that the Tar Heels are losing a key member of their special teams unit to the transfer portal.
Brown revealed during his presser earlier this morning that the team’s kickoff specialist and backup kicker, Jonathan Kim, has informed the coaching staff that he is entering the transfer portal. Since 2019, Kim has kicked off 237 times and 188 of them have gone for touchbacks for a 79.3% touchback rate, one of the nation's best in that time span. Brown says that the move is made in an effort for Kim to be able to placekick after sophomore Noah Burnette beat him out for the starting placekicking job for the Tar Heels this season. Kim attempted just one field goal in his Tar Heel career, a miss from 52 yards in the game against Duke back in 2019. He finishes a perfect three for three on extra point attempts.
With Kim in the portal, the Tar Heels lose a weapon that many probably took for granted on this team over the last few seasons. Burnette will take over the kickoff duties in his place, but the kick coverage unit, which hasn’t really been tested much the past three seasons, must now be ready to make plays if needed. The Tar Heels also lose the option of Kim at placekicker if Burnette was to struggle, something that is certainly possible for a guy who has only attempted two career field goals and is still a relative unknown. Redshirt freshman Todd Pledger will now be the backup placekicker and is now the lone option behind Burnette after fellow 2021 walk-on Teagen Lenderink entered the portal back in the offseason.