UNC’s Maye, Walker declare for NFL Draft

UNC’s Maye, Walker declare for NFL Draft

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye and wide receiver Devontez Walker are both entering the NFL Draft. Maye made an announcement about his intentions on Monday.

Walker hasn’t made an official announcement yet, but Inside Carolina reported yesterday that he is expected to declare and opt out of UNC’s bowl game. Walker has also accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

Maye won’t play for the Tar Heels in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl vs. West Virginia, either. He helped UNC go 17-9 in his 26 games as a starter the last two seasons.

Maye redshirted as a true freshman when Sam Howell was still UNC’s starting QB. He appeared in four games in 2021, completing 7-of-10 passes for 89 yards and one touchdown without an interception. Maye also had 62 rushing yards on six attempts.

In 2022, Maye led the Tar Heels to a 9-5 record, but three of their losses were by merely eight combined points. In those 14 games, Maye completed 342-of-517 passes (66.2%) for 4,321 yards with a 38/7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Maye also had 698 rushing yards, seven TDs and a 3.8 yards-per-carry average.

UNC won its first six games this year while going 5-1 against the spread. However, the Tar Heels saw their undefeated record disappear on Oct. 21 in a 31-27 loss to Virginia as 24-point home favorites. They lost 46-42 at Ga. Tech as 12-point ‘chalk’ the next week.

Maye connected on 269-of-425 throws (63.3%) for 3,608 yards with a 24/9 TD-INT ratio. He had 449 rushing yards, nine TDs and a 4.0 YPC average.

In 30 career games, Maye completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 8,018 yards with a 63/16 TD-INT ratio. He also had 1,209 career rushing yards, 16 TDs and a 4.0 YPC average.

Maye was the ACC’s Player of the Year in 2022 when he led the league and was fourth in the nation in passing yards.

Maye told ESPN, “Just sitting down with my family and the people I trust the most in life, including my coaches. This is the best decision for me and my future. It was my lifelong dream to play quarterback at North Carolina, and I get a chance to check off another dream and play quarterback in the NFL.”

Maye is listed as a top-five pick in most 2024 NFL mock drafts, and some have suggested that it isn’t out of the question for him to unseat Caleb Williams as the No. 1 overall selection.

Walker, a Charlotte native, transferred to UNC after a breakout campaign at Kent State as a redshirt freshman in 2022. In 2021, Walker played in only four games for the Golden Flashes, catching five passes for 124 yards, including a 73-yard TD reception in a 52-38 loss to Wyoming in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

In 2022 at Kent St., Walker produced 58 catches for 921 yards and 11 TDs in 12 games. He also had 29 rushing yards and one TD on just three attempts.

Walker was forced to sit out UNC’s first four games this year due to an NCAA ruling. However, after an exhaustive appeals process, the NCAA reversed course in early October and granted him immediate eligibility.

In his second game, Walker led the Tar Heels to a 41-31 win over Miami as three-point home favorites. He had six receptions for 132 yards and three TDs.

In eight games this year, Walker had 41 catches for 699 yards and seven TDs. He also had 23 rushing yards on three carries.

On Monday morning before the news about Walker and Maye broke, most books had West Virginia listed as a 3.5-point favorite vs. UNC with a total of 56.5. Since then, most spots have adjusted the Mountaineers to -5.5 with the total dropping to 55.5 points.

As of late Tuesday morning, the Tar Heels were in the +175 to +185 range on the money line.

In other news, UNC announced Monday that TE Bryson Nesbit and TE John Copenhaver are both ‘out’ vs. West Virginia due to lower-body injuries. In 12 games, Nesbit had 41 receptions for 585 yards and five TDs, while Copenhaver had 18 catches for 279 yards and four TDs in 10 games.

UNC WR Nate McCollum is listed as ‘questionable’ vs. WVU with a lower-body ailment. In nine games, McCollum had 39 grabs for 428 yards and one TD.

Finally, UNC also announced Monday that QB Jefferson Boaz will participate in the bowl game despite entering the transfer portal.

Backup QB Conner Harrell, a redshirt freshman, is expected to be named the starter vs. WVU. In three games this year, Harrell completed 4-of-6 passes for 71 yards and one TD without an interception. He also had 50 rushing yards and one TD on just five attempts.