CHAPEL HILL, N.C –– North Carolina (7-2, 3-2 ACC) did what they were supposed to do on Saturday with a 59-7 blowout over Campbell.
With the win, they sneaked back into the AP Top 25 landing the No. 24 spot, playing their most complete game since Oct. 7 when they held the Orange to just seven points and scored 40. UNC has the best offense in the ACC and sits at third best in the FBS.
“I’m proud of the guys and the way they played,” said head coach Mack Brown. “They took a game that we should have dominated and did exactly that. The most fun thing about that game was how many guys got to play and they played well.”
According to Brown, 90 players saw field action. But perhaps most notable was the performance of backup quarterback Connor Harrell who put on a show – completing all four of his pass attempts including a 41-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Chris Culliver. The redshirt freshman also had a score of
his own as he plowed down the field for 61 yards, he finished the game with 71 passing yards.
While his snaps were limited, it was good for Tar Heel fans to get a glimpse of Harrell’s running ability, especially with the end of the season inching closer. With three games left on the schedule, this weekend against Duke will mark the final home game that QB1 Drake Maye will play.
As the Maye era comes to a close in Chapel Hill, it’s easy to say that he’s the best quarterback to come through the program. He leads the ACC in passing and total offense. And his dual ability as a runner and a passer has elevated him to the spot of the No.1 draft pick come 2024.
He told the media that he won’t be participating in Senior Day which will occur this homecoming weekend when the Tar Heels face Duke. A huge part of his decision stems from his experience watching his older brother Luke’s farewell back in 2019.
“I think Senior Day, personally, is meant for seniors,” he said. “And when I think back on it, I remember Luke’s speech in the Dean Dome when he was a senior, and how heartfelt it was. Just that feeling of knowing as a senior that you won’t be back is different than the position I’m at, so leave that for the seniors. I think it’s meant for those guys.”
However, he also alluded to the fact that his future with the Tar Heels is uncertain and that he hasn’t made a firm decision of whether he’ll stay another year or enter the draft.
“You never know, I haven’t made a decision about what next year is going to be. I just think that’s what’s best for me, and I feel like that celebration on Saturday is meant for those guys for sure playing their last game.”
Maye hasn’t confirmed anything about his future and he prefers that those conversations wait until the Tar Heels close out the season, even though Mack Brown has believed for months that Drake heading to the 2024 NFL Draft is a certainty.
Star linebacker Cedric Gray is the only player who has confirmed his plans to leave and enter the draft, despite having eligibility remaining. He’ll partake in the Senior Day festivities as he bids his farewell to Tar Heel fans. Gray leads the ACC in tackles behind Payton Wilson of NC State and is 12th in the ACC in sacks.
“I think all that stuff happens after the season,” Maye said. “I’m worried about playing now and trying to win ball games for this team, and I think the rest will play itself out. I’m focused on these games, and there’s a lot that can happen, so you never know. But I’m just worried about these games. We’ve got three big ones, three big ACC teams that are close to home. So really focused on that.”
“If it is my last, just try to put it out there for the Heels one last time in Kenan,” Maye continued. “It’s got me tearing up thinking about it. It’s a special place to me. These people. These fans. These guys around me. I’ll do anything for these guys and just looking forward to ending it right and finishing out strong.”
If Drake does decide to take the plunge and pass the torch, the future of Carolina seems to be in good hands with Connor Harrell and the other young talent who have shown flashes of triumph in their few minutes of field action.