2021 UNC Football Preview: Wide Receiver

Jan 2, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Josh Downs (11) makes a reception for a 75-yard touchdown past Texas A&M Aggies defensive back Leon O'Neal Jr. (9) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Josh Downs (11) makes a reception for a 75-yard touchdown past Texas A&M Aggies defensive back Leon O'Neal Jr. (9) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Keeping It Heel continues our positional breakdown of the UNC football program as we take a look at the  revamped wide receiver position.

QB | RB | TE 

A saying that goes “out with the old and in with the new” speaks volumes when you take a look at wide receiver position for North Carolina. Losing two top targets to the NFL Draft is never an easy task especially when those receivers had a combined 1,783 receiving yards last season. Those two route technicians, being Dazz Newsome, and Dyami Brown, left big cleats to be filled.

So, who will be taking the task to run in those cleats, and how does the UNC football program keep the route running up at bay?


Despite how stellar quarterback Sam Howell’s play has been in his first two seasons, he will be testing new waters without Newsome and Brown.

The two wide receivers often exploded for big plays and made up for 53% of Howell’s career touchdown passes. Brown led the Atlantic Coastal Conference in receiving yards (1099) and also finished 6th best in the NCAA, meanwhile, Newsome had back-to-back seasons in the top 10 for receiving touchdowns in the ACC.

The wide receiving duo departure opens the door for a new duo to emerge, which will be needed to keep the dynamic offense at float. The great thing about replacing the production is just how stacked the UNC football program is in the wide receiver department, however, when speaking with media, Mack Brown understands the difficulty at hand when it comes to giving the proper playing time per 247 sports.

“Lonnie Galloway and Larry Porter have probably, to me, the hardest job on the team, of making sure they separate those guys but get them ready to play and do that with good morale, team morale,” Brown said.

As training camp continues it becomes more clear which receivers will stand out from the rest.


Josh Downs

Up first is Downs, who is the wide receiver that many are predicting to have a break-out year. The sophomore stands at 5-foot-10-inch, 180 pounds, however, don’t let Downs’ small frame fool you because what comes along with it is explosive route running.

Downs was a four-star recruit from North Gwinnett High School, where he snagged 83 balls for 1290 yards and 14 touchdowns in his senior year. Those numbers plus finishing 53rd in the nation and 9th in Georgia for his recruiting class have fans anticipating what Downs can bring this season after learning during his true freshman year.

Despite a stacked wide receiver room and being a newbie, Downs did find time on the field last season, lining up for 74 snaps, which 45 of those resulted in Downs showcasing his route running. Regardless of snaps, Downs found a way to electrify Tar Heel nation in the biggest game of UNC’s football season, where he caught a 75-yard touchdown pass during the Orange Bowl against Texas A&M. Even with the Heels falling short, Downs had his break out game, finishing with 91 yards, two touchdowns, and a boatload of high expectations leading into this season.

There’s a chance with the right opportunities that Downs ends up as a breakout player this year for the Tar Heels.

2020 Stats: seven receptions, 119 yards, and three touchdowns.

Beau Corrales

The crispy chicken-eating Bojangles sponsor is the most seasoned wide receiver of the group. Corrales took advantage of the NCAA rule that allowed an extra year of eligibility, which is key to the success of keeping the UNC football program at float. The return comes after missing most of last season when Corrales was sidelined following a sports hernia surgery.

Despite only appearing in four games last season, Corrales made an impact especially in the last game he played against the Florida State Seminoles. Even though Carolina came up short (31-28) in his last game played that season, he had four catches, 141 yards, and one touchdown.

There’s not much to say about his 2020 season due to being sidelined, however, now with a fully healthy season ahead, the super senior consistency will be counted on. Corrales’ best season came in 2019, where he had 40 receptions, 575 yards, and six touchdowns as the third option on the receiving core.

Corrales may not lead the wide receivers in stats this season, but expect a break-out year from this wide receiver’s group leader.

2020 Stats: 13 receptions, 238 yards, and one touchdown.

Khafre Brown

After playing and learning alongside his older brother Dyami, many believe that Khafre can do damage to opposing secondaries this season. Despite being a true freshman last season, Khafre saw the third-most snaps (303) for wide receivers, playing an important role after Corrales’s injury.

Khafre is set to start this season and it is easy to see why. Last season, regardless of the loaded department full of explosive weapons, Khafre still found a way to hear his name called over the Intercom at Kenan Stadium.

The young wide receiver’s speed was on full display in 2020 with his biggest play being a 76-yard touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers. It’s impressive when a player that young can step up when his number is called, but what is even more majestic is that it occurred after a less-than-normal training camp due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

An actual training camp and no longer playing under the shadows of his big brother, much like Downs and Corrales, you can expect Khafre to be a reliable target.

2020 season stats: 15 receptions, 337 yards, and two touchdowns.


The key to Carolina’s recent success has been their offense and to keep things that way the wide receiving core will have to be consistent. There’s a lot of talent with this position being heavy in-depth and it could emerge as a top receiving core in the nation.

Newsome and Dyami will be missed, however, Downs and Khafre could be the second coming of that dynamic duo. Once you add the experience Corrales brings to the mix, what could come next is record-breaking performances.

The defenses will have their hands tied, and with plenty of weapons waiting for their number to be called the offense shouldn’t see any drop in production. The only way this core fails is if Howell takes a step back, and the chances of that happening are the same as Ash winning a Pokémon tournament.

To be short, expect fireworks.


WR1: Khafre Brown

WR2: Beau Corrales

SLOT WR: Josh Downs

BENCH: Antonie Green, Emery Simmons Jr., Stephen Gosnell, J.J Jones,

Justin Olson, Gavin Blackwell

Related Story. 2021 UNC Football Preview: Tight Ends. light

Be sure to check back with Keeping It Heel as we continue our positional preview.