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Heel Tough Blog: Tar Heels Lose Starting Safety to the Portal

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

Jim Dedmon- USA Today Sports

It is officially portal madness with the transfer officially opening today. The Tar Heels have already suffered plenty of attrition on the defensive side of the ball and just a short time ago, they sustained their most significant loss thus far.

Starting safety Cam’Ron Kelly announced just after lunchtime today that he will be entering the transfer portal for his final season of eligibility. Kelly started all 12 games in the regular season for the Tar Heels this season before getting banged up in the loss to NC State and missing Saturday night’s ACC Championship Game. Despite entering the portal, he will play in the bowl game against Oregon he said in his social media post confirming the move. Kelly has played 785 defensive snaps so far this season, racking up 49 total tackles, 0.5 a tackle for loss, an interception and a pass deflection. Last year, as a junior, Kelly was tied for the conference lead in interceptions with four while playing in all thirteen games and starting nine. Kelly has currently played 2,330 snaps in his career, totaling 179 total tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, five interceptions and seven pass deflections.

This move has to be influenced by the play of other safeties in the room late in the season. True freshman Will Hardy started in place of Kelly on Saturday night against Clemson and looks as if he will be in line for the starting job next season. Meanwhile, Giovanni Biggers and Don Chapman have the option to return for their final seasons at boundary safety and Ja’Qurious Conley is expected to be back after missing nearly this entire season due to rehab and a setback with his lower body injury. Kelly’s loss combined with the loss of depth safety Dontavius Nash, though, could force the Tar Heels to look in the portal for help, something that might have already been on the table before those decisions.


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