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Heel Tough Blog: Tar Heels Lose Second Defensive Backfield Contributor to the Portal

Andy Mead- ISI Photos

It was a quiet weekend for the Tar Heels in terms of departures in the transfer portal, but things picked right back up on Monday as the team lost their thirteenth scholarship player to the portal in the form of a rotational defensive back.

As first reported by Inside Carolina earlier this afternoon, graduate nickelback/running back D.J. Jones will enter the transfer portal. Jones will have one year of eligibility remaining wherever he lands.

Jones played in 43 games in his four seasons in Chapel Hill, including thirteen this season after converting to the nickelback spot. He started the regular season finale against NC State in place of the injured Alijah Huzzie, his second start of the year alongside the one he made early in the season against Appalachian State. He finished the season with 15 total tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and allowed 12 of his 16 targets to be caught for 143 yards and a 101.8 quarterback rating when targeted. Prior to his move to the defensive side of the ball, Jones carried the ball 97 times for 442 yards and two touchdowns and caught 24 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown in three years in the Tar Heel backfield. He was also a key member of the special teams unit, especially this season when he played the most special teams snaps of anyone on the team this season.

Jones’ departure makes a lot of sense with DeAndre Boykins, who started all fourteen games for the team at nickelback in 2022, and Alijah Huzzie, who started all but one game for the team there this season, returning next season. Current true freshman Kaleb Cost is also expected to return to provide depth if the team decides to move Huzzie or Boykins somewhere else in the defensive backfield. The bigger loss is on special teams where the team will now have to replace their top four contributors in terms of snaps from this past season.


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