The 2021 edition of the University of North Carolina football season got underway on March 23rd as the team began Spring practice. The team went 8-4 in 2020 that included an Orange Bowl loss to Texas A&M. UNC football returns 18 of 22 starters from the season and 21 of 22 starters from the Orange Bowl including a recruiting class that ranked 13th in the country.
The Spring Game is scheduled for Saturday April 24 at 3:00pm and can be seen on the ACC Network.
In anticipation of the Spring Game and the Fall season, we will take a look at each position group beginning with the offense. The first offensive position that we will explore are the quarterbacks. There are currently four quarterbacks on the roster and we will take a look at each one in order based upon the projected depth chart.
You can not think about UNC football without immediately thinking of Sam Howell.
The rising junior from Indian Trail, North Carolina is a legitimate Heisman contender that is coming into his third season with lofty expectations. Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Phil Longo has done a tremendous job in guiding Howell’s development. In his first two seasons, Howell has thrown for 7,227 yards and 68 touchdowns while throwing 14 interceptions. He also has six rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns to his credit. The 2021 season should be his finest yet.
Howell’s leadership guides the rest of the team and especially the quarterback room. There are three young men waiting in the wings and they all could start on some other teams in the ACC. Mack Brown has stated that the backup quarterback position is wide open for whoever takes possession of it. The next player to take a look at is rising sophomore Jacoby Criswell. The Morrilton, Arkansas native has looked very good so far in practice with showcasing his athletic mobility. He throws a tight spiral and is becoming a player with a very bright future.
Next in line is freshman Drake Maye. The five-star commit from Charlotte, North Carolina is acclimating very well to the UNC football system. He is still working on learning the offense and he will need more time in the weight room to get stronger but Maye will win games for Carolina in the future. His ability to get rid of the ball quickly by analyzing coverage is exceptional for a freshman and that will only improve under Longo’s coaching.
Last but definitely not least is redshirt freshman Jefferson Boaz. The Pilot Mountain, North Carolina product is tall and athletic. His 105 total touchdowns over his final two high school seasons earned him first-team honors on the MaxPreps All-State team. It is my opinion that eventually Boaz will convert over to the tight end position. He was the 40th ranked tight end in the nation his senior year and his 6-foot-6-inches tall, 245-pound frame would make him an excellent target. Only time will tell what direction his career takes him.
Like I stated earlier, Howell is a legitimate Heisman contender and there are teams within the ACC that Criswell, Maye and Boaz could not only play for but be a starter. Mack Brown has assembled quite a quarterback room and the future is definitely bright.
For more information on Carolina athletics check back daily on keepingitheel.com