Last night, Tar Heel wide receiver Tez Walker accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, but there was still some uncertainty about whether or not it meant that he had officially entered the draft.
Earlier this evening, however, it was confirmed by Inside Carolina that Walker will be foregoing his final season in Chapel Hill for the NFL Draft. The report also states that he will not play in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, meaning that his Tar Heel career has concluded after just eight games.
In his lone season with the Tar Heels, Walker played in and started each of the eight games after a battle with the NCAA that caught the attention of many around the country dragged into the season. Even though he missed those four games, he still finished with 41 receptions for 699 yards and seven touchdowns on his way to third team All-ACC honors.
This departure is a big blow to this wide receiving corps that will now be searching for a new No. 1 receiver for a second straight season. J.J. Jones had a breakout season and the hope is that he will be ready to take the next step to becoming an elite receiver this offseason. Kobe Paysour will be back from his injury that cost him the final seven games of the season and is another guy to watch that could take over that primary target role. Nate McCollum out of the slot is a sleeper after struggling a bit this year.
In terms of where the team goes on the outside opposite of Jones, there are some good options on the roster and in the portal. If they choose to stick with the guys they’ve got, Paysour could get a chance to move full time to the outside, but it will likely be Gavin Blackwell that will get another shot in the bowl game after winning the starting job this past camp. Another name to watch is current true freshman Chris Culliver who made a nice impression on the staff this year in fall camp and who’s skillset resembles Dyami Brown’s.
The team will also have to strongly consider going into the portal, especially with a lot of great options out there. They have already been tied to UTEP transfer Kelly Akharaiyi and you would expect to see them turn the heat up on him and others over the next few days.