Following the Tar Heels win over the Miami Hurricanes, there was some speculation that a group of players would sit out the team’s upcoming bowl game and on Monday morning that became a reality. Linebacker Chazz Surratt, running back Michael Carter and wide receiver Dyami Brown all announced via their social media accounts that they were going to forego the Orange Bowl game against Texas A&M.
For Surratt, he finishes his Tar Heel career in a much better place than where it started. After his first two seasons on campus, Surratt had put together an unimpressive start as a quarterback, capped off by a three interception performance in the game against Miami where he suffered a season ending injury. The promise of Cade Fortin and Jace Ruder and the signing of Sam Howell allowed him to make the move to linebacker. From the minute he took the field in the season opener against South Carolina, he was one of the Tar Heels best defenders, racking up 207 total tackles, 22.5 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks in his finals two seasons on campus, becoming one of the best defensive players in the ACC during that time span.
Carter has been a major part of the Tar Heel backfield for each of the past four years, taking it to another level in the final two years of his career. Carter finishes his Tar Heel career with 3,404 rushing yards (4th in program history), 4,060 total yards offense (5th in program history) and 28 total touchdowns (11th in program history). In each of his last two seasons on campus, Carter ran for over 1,000 yards, becoming the first running back since Giovani Bernard back in 2012 to hit that mark in consecutive seasons. With his career over, his lasting impression will be his final game performance against Miami, where he ran for 308 yards, the second most in a single game in program history and fourth most in ACC history.
As for Brown, he will be leaving early after a historic career of his own. In three seasons on campus, Brown tallied 2,306 yards (7th in program history) and 21 total touchdowns (T-2nd in program history) on 123 receptions. He became the first Tar Heel in program history to finish with 1,000 yards receiving when he surpassed that mark a couple of weeks ago against Miami and his historic performance against Virginia in his final two seasons will be hard to forget.
With these losses, the Orange Bowl will be the chance for the Tar Heels to get a jump start on finding replacements for these talented players. As of right now, Javonte Williams is expected to play, but that doesn’t mean that Elijah Green or Josh Henderson might not see some carries in this one. At wide receiver, with Beau Corrales out for the season, Emery Simmons and Khafre Brown should see a good amount of snaps, while Antoine Green could also see an expanded role after seeing his most extensive snaps of the season in each of the last two games. Eugene Asante is the guy that we expect to take over the bulk of the snaps at inside linebacker opposite of Jeremiah Gemmel, while Khadry Jackson could also provide some help, as well.
It’s the Tar Heels first major bowl appearance in 70 years and it definitely stings that these players won’t be participating in this major moment in Tar Heel history. However, with the modern landscape of college football and especially during COVID-19, it’s more than understandable why they made the decision that they did. Their losses will make the Orange Bowl even more challenging, but one would expect opt-outs to come from Texas A&M, as well. If not, this is at least a chance to get a jumpstart on next year, something that is definitely helpful with a lot of uncertainty surrounding the what this offseason will look like.