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Heel Tough Blog: Three Who Need to Step Up the Most With Walker Out

The Tar Heels received some of the program’s most dejecting and frustrating news in a while on Tuesday regarding transfer wide receiver Devontez Walker. The preseason All-ACC and Biletnikoff Award watch list member saw his transfer waiver officially declined for this upcoming season. While the staff is going through the appeals process, the Tar Heels have to start preparing as if they will be without the talent Kent State transfer when they take the field in Charlotte. We give you a look at the three players we think need to step up the most with Walker sidelined.

Nate McCollum

UNC Athletics

The Georgia Tech transfer is good to go and he could be counted on heavily, especially early on, without Walker. He was a frequent target of Maye’s in the spring and that seems to have carried over to the fall as he looks poised for a big season in an offense that fits his skillset much better than his previous stop. If Walker is ultimately deemed ineligible, the Tar Heels will need McCollum to step up and produce at a level similar to what Josh Downs did the last two years until someone can emerge on the outside.

J.J. Jones

UNC Athletics

Walker has been compared to Dyami Brown a lot this offseason, in large part because of what he could do for this team’s deep passing game. With him out, the Tar Heels are left searching for someone who can take the top off of defenses and Jones seems like the best candidate to do that. Jones, who started 12 games for the team a year ago, averaged 18.1 yards per catch in 2022 but only caught 24 of his 51 targets. He will need to be much more efficient if he is going to play the number of reps that he did a year ago, which seems like an inevitability if Walker is out to begin the season.

Andre Greene Jr.

UNC Athletics

It was a bit shocking to hear Greene Jr.’s name not mentioned amongst those that were a part of the rotation at receiver following spring ball, especially after the flashes he showed in the bowl. Walker’s ineligibility opens the door ever wider for him to join that group of trusted receivers and the team needs him to take a big leap here in fall camp. He doesn’t possess the same skillset that Walker does, but his emergence would be huge for a team that now needs to find reliable weapons on the outside.


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