UNC Football: Corey Gaynor declares for NFL Draft

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 1: Corey Gaynor #65 of the University North Carolina walks through the player tunnel before a game between Virginia Tech and North Carolina at Kenan Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2022 in Chapel HIll, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 1: Corey Gaynor #65 of the University North Carolina walks through the player tunnel before a game between Virginia Tech and North Carolina at Kenan Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2022 in Chapel HIll, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /
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The UNC football program has lost a key contributor to its offensive line, as Corey Gaynor will forgo the bowl game and enter the NFL Draft.

The list of UNC Football players declaring for the 2024 NFL Draft continued to grow as the week began. Seventh-year center Corey Gaynor announced on Monday night that he would enter the draft as well as sit out the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

Gaynor, a graduate student from Parkland, Fla., transferred to North Carolina from conference rival Miami ahead of the 2022 season. Originally a guard, he switched to center after redshirting his sophomore year, starting 27 consecutive games before a season-ending knee injury early in the 2021 season. He made the move to Chapel Hill in hopes of making the most of his remaining eligibility.

Gaynor was named an honorable mention all-ACC in both of his years with the UNC Football program, helping shepherd an offense that finished 15th in FBS, 11th in the Power Five, and second only to Florida State in the ACC. He blew open hole after hole for Omarion Hampton as Hampton turned in one of the greatest seasons for a running back in UNC Football history.

It’s not the first time that Gaynor sparked an explosive offense. During the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he helped the Hurricanes roll up 485 yards against Florida State, 620 yards against N.C. State, 524 yards against Duke, and 512 yards in the Cheez-it Bowl against Oklahoma.

However, Gaynor’s greatest contribution may have come in the locker room.

In August, he told The Daily Tar Heel that he sees himself primarily as a role model for his teammates, many of whom were in middle school when he first set foot on a collegiate field. Drake Maye, for instance, was only 14 years old when Gaynor played his first game for Miami. Gaynor believes his main job is to “pass on my knowledge” to his teammates on the offensive line and ensure that they get “every resource possible out of me.”

Next. UNC Football: Drake Maye declares for the NFL Draft. dark

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