Jan 1, 2024; New Orleans, LA, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Arch Manning (16) warms up before the 2024 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game against the Washington Huskies at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

SEC dominates potential Arch Manning transfer destinations

Arch Manning announced last month that he planned to return to the Texas Longhorns for the 2024 season whether or not starting quarterback Quinn Ewers declared for the NFL draft.

However, Ewers’ announcement this week that he will return to Austin for his senior season sparked the embers on rumors of a potential transfer. Should Manning, the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the 2023 class, consider leaving the Longhorns, there would be no shortage of suitors.

If Manning exits Austin, LSU is the favorite destination at +200 by SportsBetting.ag as the Tigers look to replace Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels. Manning’s grandfather, Archie Manning, is a Louisiana legend, having starred for the New Orleans Saints from 1971-82.

The next-shortest odds belong to North Carolina at +300. The Tar Heels are losing Drake Maye, who is in the picture for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Third is Ole Miss (+400), which is where Archie Manning and Arch’s uncle, Eli, both played. Arch Manning previously broke the all-time passing record held by Eli at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans.

The book is offering odds on nine potential schools. Seven of those are in the SEC, including Tennessee, where another of Arch Manning’s uncles, Peyton, is the program’s all-time leading passer.

LSU (+200)
North Carolina (+300)
Ole Miss (+400)
Tulane (+500)
Alabama (+600)
Tennessee (+800)
South Carolina (+1000)
Georgia (+1200)
Texas A&M (+3300)

Ewers announced Thursday that he would return to Texas rather than enter the draft. In the week leading up to the Longhorns’ College Football Playoff semifinal against Washington, Manning insisted that Ewers’ pending decision would not alter his plan to return to Austin for a second season.

Texas offensive coordinator Kyle Flood said Manning showed progress with increased practice reps during Sugar Bowl preparation. During the 2023 season, Maalik Murphy was the primary backup to Ewers while Manning filled the No. 3 role. Murphy transferred to Duke with writing on the wall about Manning’s future role.

“He approaches everything like he’s the starting quarterback,” Flood said of Manning. “And I think that’s the key, whenever you’re in a reserve role, to being ready whenever you’re called upon.

“We’ve got a ton of confidence in Arch.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Mack Brown tries to cheer on his defense during the second half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina, top defensive coach Gene Chizik part ways

Mack Brown and North Carolina are on the hunt for a defensive coordinator again.

Brown said he and assistant head coach/defense Gene Chizik agreed to part ways following postseason meetings. Chizik ran the Tar Heels’ defense for the past two seasons.

“Gene Chizik is one of the best football coaches I’ve shared the sideline with during my 46 years of coaching,” Brown said in a school-issued release. “He’s a man of faith who worked tirelessly to provide the best coaching and mentorship he could to the young men he coached. We met extensively following the season, and despite the improvements from last season to this season, we mutually agreed that parting ways would be in the best interest of both he and the program. I want to thank Gene and his family for all they’ve done for our program and wish them nothing but the best.”

North Carolina was 75th in points allowed in the FBS in 2023 at 27.3 points per game.

Brown will conduct interviews to find Chizik’s replacement, one of a number of changes on that side of the ball for 2024.

Co-defensive coordinator Charlton Warren was elevated to assistant head coach for defense and will also coach defensive backs. Defensive analyst Ted Monachino is taking over for Tim Cross as defensive line coach.

“Being a part of 36 wins and two ACC Coastal Championships during my four years at UNC has truly been a blessing,” Chizik stated. “Mack Brown and I will continue to be the closest of friends and I want to wish all of the coaches, players and administration the best moving forward. I love these young men at UNC and will always be grateful that our paths crossed.”

Chizik, 62, previously served as Larry Fedora’s defensive coordinator at North Carolina from 2015-16.

He was back in the role in 2022 and 2023 after Brown parted with Jay Bateman, his defensive coordinator from 2019-21. Bateman recently was named defensive coordinator at Texas A&M under new Aggies coach Mike Elko.

–Field Level Media

Mack Brown and Tez Walker

North Carolina WR Tez Walker declares for NFL Draft

On the heels of North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye declaring for the NFL Draft on Monday, wide receiver Tez Walker did the same a day later.

Walker, who transferred from Kent State but initially had his waiver denied by the NCAA before it reversed course, posted his decision on social media.

“I have decided to opt out of the bowl game and will be declaring for the 2024 NFL Draft! Thank you God for giving me the opportunity to continue my journey,” Walker posted.

Walker also thanked North Carolina, Kent State and North Carolina Central in his statement.

North Carolina won’t have Maye or Walker in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl against West Virginia on Dec. 27. Corey Gaynor, Myles Murphy and Cedric Gray have also left UNC and will enter the draft.

A two-time transfer, Walker finished with 41 catches for 699 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games in his one season with the Tar Heels. Three of those scores came Oct. 14 against visiting Miami, when he hauled in six catches for 132 yards in a 41-31 win.

In his three collegiate seasons, including two at Kent State (2021-22), the 6-2, 200-pound Walker finished with 104 catches for 1,744 yards and 19 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) throws a pass against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during the first half at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina QB Drake Maye enters draft, will skip bowl game

Drake Maye is entering the 2024 NFL Draft after three years at North Carolina.

Maye is considered one of the top quarterbacks and overall prospects in the college game and could be in the mix for the No. 1 pick.

Maye made 26 starts across 2022 and 2023 and compiled a 17-9 record as a starter. He has thrown for 8,018 yards, 63 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in his college career. He ranks fourth all-time in North Carolina history in passing touchdowns and fifth in passing yards.

“This is the best decision for me and my future,” Maye told ESPN. “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 told ESPN he will skip the Tar Heels’ bowl game, the Duke’s Mayo Bowl against West Virginia, in order to begin preparing for the draft.

Maye received Heisman Trophy votes last season, placing 10th as he finished the season with 4,321 yards, 38 touchdowns and only seven picks.

North Carolina fell from the rankings this season after a 6-0 start gave way to an 8-4 record at the close of the regular season. Maye threw for 3,608 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions over 12 games.

–Field Level Media

Texas A&M quarterback Max Johnson (14) throws a pass during a football game between Tennessee and Texas A&M at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023.

Texas A&M QB Max Johnson transferring to UNC

Former LSU and Texas A&M quarterback Max Johnson is transferring to North Carolina.

“Excited to be a Tar Heel! Let’s Go!” he posted Wednesday on X.

Johnson announced he was entering the transfer portal on Sunday. He is a graduate transfer with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Texas A&M fired Jimbo Fisher and hired former Duke head coach Mike Elko to lead the program after a 7-5 season in 2023.

As a redshirt sophomore for the Aggies in 2023, he passed for 1,452 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions in eight games.

Johnson has thrown for 5,853 yards, 47 TDs and 12 picks over parts of four seasons at LSU (2020-21) and Texas A&M (2022-23).

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack receiver KC Concepcion (10) runs after a catch against North Carolina Tar Heels defensive back Will Hardy (31) during the first half at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 NC State scores at will, routs North Carolina

Brennan Armstrong threw for three touchdowns and No. 22 North Carolina State used a dominating first half and went on to defeat visiting North Carolina 39-20 on Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C.

Armstrong, a graduate transfer from Virginia, threw for 334 yards on 22-for-31 passing. KC Concepcion was on the receiving end of two touchdowns among his seven catches for 131 yards in the Atlantic Coast Conference matchup.

Drake Maye threw for two touchdowns and two interceptions as North Carolina (8-4, 4-4 ACC) lost for the fourth time in six weeks. Maye rushed for a career-high 106 rushing yards, but the conference’s leading rusher, Omarion Hampton, was limited to 28 yards on nine carries.

NC State (9-3, 6-2), which won its fifth straight, scored on its first eight possessions — four field goals, four touchdowns — to build a 39-14 lead.

Armstrong threw second-quarter touchdown passes of 11 and 6 yards to Concepcion. Brayden Narveson kicked four field goals (32, 40, 28 and 24 yards) in the first half.

The Tar Heels were within 39-20 and driving to the Wolfpack 19 early in the fourth quarter, but Maye’s pass was deflected, and linebacker Payton Wilson made a diving interception.

The Wolfpack, on their way to a third consecutive victory against their long-time rival, built a 23-0 lead before the Tar Heels scored.

Then an unusual sequence developed. Narveson kicked his fourth field goal — a 19-yarder — on what appeared to be the last play of the half.

When the teams came back to the field after the break, the officials waved off the field goal the Wolfpack had 12 players on the field for the kick. Narveson then backed up for his 24-yarder, and the score reverted to 26-7.

Still, NC State held a 327-123 advantage in total offense in the first half.

North Carolina’s first five possessions had four three-and-outs and a fumble.

The Tar Heels got on the board on Maye’s 15-yard pass to John Copenhaver. Maye’s 1-yard run and his 21-yard pass to Tez Walker accounted for North Carolina’s second-half touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) dives past North Carolina Tar Heels linebacker Power Echols (23) for a touchdown during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson topples No. 20 North Carolina for third straight win

Cade Klubnik passed for a touchdown and ran for another as Clemson took advantage of No. 20 North Carolina’s mistakes in a 31-20 victory Saturday at Clemson, S.C., giving the resurgent Tigers their third straight win.

Will Shipley rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown and Phil Mafah gained 84 yards and scored on a fourth-down play as the Tigers (7-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) completed their league schedule.

North Carolina’s quest for a spot in the ACC Championship game was dashed earlier in the day when Louisville won at Miami. The Tar Heels (8-3, 4-3) have lost three of their last five games.

North Carolina’s Omarion Hampton ran for 178 yards on 19 carries, but he lost two fumbles after not fumbling in the team’s first 10 games. Quarterback Drake Maye was 16-for-36 for 209 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Klubnik threw for 219 yards on 21-for-32 passing and rushed for 44 yards in a rematch of last year’s ACC title game.

Clemson went up 21-7 when Mafah scored from 3 yards out on fourth down with 7:15 left in the third quarter.

The Tar Heels struck back quickly on Hampton’s 55-yard run on the third play of the next possession.

Clemson wasted no time in re-building a 14-point edge with Shipley reaching the end zone on a 33-yard run. Then an 88-yard drive resulted in Jonathan Weitz’s 21-yard field goal for a 31-14 score.

North Carolina held a sizable statistical advantage in the first half, but two fumbles by Hampton inside the Clemson 10-yard line resulted in scoring chances going for naught.

North Carolina opened the scoring on Maye’s 33-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Jones in the first quarter. But the Tar Heels wasted other opportunities.

Clemson pulled even on Klubnik’s 3-yard pass to Jake Briningstool to conclude a 14-play, 80-yard march.

The Tigers took the lead on an 11-play drive that ended with three seconds left of the first half on Klubnik’s 3-yard run on third down.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Mack Brown on the field before a game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

‘Full steam ahead’: North Carolina’s Mack Brown, 72, not retiring

Mack Brown will be back at the helm of North Carolina football in 2024, according to a university spokesperson.

Brown will turn 73 two days before the Tar Heels’ season opener at Minnesota on Aug. 29.

“It’s that time of year, so someone is going to start this rumor in hopes of affecting our team and/or recruiting like they’ve done past 2 years,” North Carolina assistant athletic director Jeremy Sharpe said in a statement to Stadium. “Mack (Brown) is full steam ahead. In fact, he already has spring practice planned & is currently setting up recruiting visits for December, so no, he’s not retiring.”

Brown is best known for guiding Texas to the national championship in 2005, when Vince Young’s Longhorns beat Southern California 41-38 in the Rose Bowl. Texas also lost the 2009 BCS Championship Game to Alabama under Brown.

The Tar Heels are 8-2 in the fifth season of Brown’s second tenure at the school. He has a 276-141-1 all-time record as the head coach of Tulane (1985-87), North Carolina (1988-97, 2019-23) and Texas (1998-2013).

–Field Level Media

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and North Carolina Coach Mack Brown talk before the ACC Championship football game with North Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina Saturday, Dec 3, 2022.

Clemson Tigers Football Vs North Carolina Tar Heels Acc Championship Charlotte Nc

Clemson out to squash hopes of No. 20 North Carolina

North Carolina holds a national ranking and Clemson doesn’t.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way in mid-November. The No. 20 Tar Heels still have aspirations of playing for the championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which Clemson has dominated over much of the past decade.

This puts the host Tigers, who have shown a recent resurgence, in a spoiler’s role when the teams meet Saturday in Clemson, S.C.

“They’re the old Clemson again,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said of the Tigers, who won two College Football Playoff titles in the past eight years. “They’re playing like a playoff team. They’re protecting the ball, running the ball so well. … They dominated a Georgia Tech team that beat us.”

Some preseason projections had this game as a potential preview of the ACC title game. That’s not the case, though North Carolina has a slim chance of advancing.

The Tar Heels (8-2, 4-2), who would need to beat Clemson and win next week at North Carolina State to stay in contention for the ACC title, should know more about their status prior to Saturday’s kickoff. By that time, the game between Louisville and Miami should be done, and a Louisville loss would keep UNC in contention for the spot opposite No. 4 Florida State in next month’s title game.

Brown wasn’t thrilled earlier this year when the schedules came out and he saw his team going to Clemson and rival NC State in consecutive weeks to end the regular season. It still looks like a daunting task.

“We’ve got to get up and go,” Brown said. “I’ve always loved to go on the road and play in great places. Not many people have won there (at Clemson). What a great challenge for us.”

Clemson (6-4, 3-4) has toppled then-No. 15 Notre Dame and Georgia Tech in trying to resurrect its season.

“We’re starting to play how we knew we could,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “Our defense has played well enough to be a playoff team. But we haven’t done our part offensively taking care of the ball.”

The Tigers have a solid running back tandem with Will Shipley back from injury. He and Phil Mafah combined for 173 rushing yards in last week’s 42-21 rout of Georgia Tech. Cade Klubnik threw for four touchdowns.

Clemson has won 23 of its past 26 November games.

“All that gets your players’ attention,” Brown said. “(The Tigers) get everybody’s attention because they are who they are. They’re really, really good at everything they do. They just had a year where it was uncommon for them that they turned the ball over and weren’t forcing turnovers as much as they have in the past, but now they’ve corrected that.”

North Carolina is trying to build on a 47-45 double-overtime victory against Duke. That came with a couple of situations that had to go the Tar Heels’ way to avoid defeat.

“It’s amazing how that one play makes a difference,” Brown said of the mood around his team.

In addition to quarterback Drake Maye, North Carolina has an offensive threat with running back Omarion Hampton. He’s the ACC’s leading rusher with 1,236 yards, including 169 in the Duke game.

North Carolina leads the ACC in scoring at 39.9 points per game.

Among those who’ll try to slow down the Tar Heels is Clemson freshman cornerback Shelton Lewis, who made his first career start last weekend. That resulted in an interception that was returned 46 yards for a touchdown.

Still, the Tar Heels with Maye will try to target the relatively young Clemson defensive backs.

This is a rematch of the 2022 ACC championship game that was won 39-10 by Clemson, which has swept the past five meetings overall with the Tar Heels.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver J.J. Jones (5) catches the ball as Duke Blue Devils cornerback Al Blades Jr. (7) defends in the second quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 24 North Carolina edges Duke in 2OT thriller

Drake Maye scored on a 5-yard quarterback keeper and threw for a two-point conversion in the second overtime as No. 24 North Carolina, which needed a field goal on the last play of regulation to extend the game, beat visiting Duke 47-45 on Saturday night at Chapel Hill, N.C.

Duke had a chance to tie after Grayson Loftis tossed a TD pass to Jordan Moore — who caught three TDs — but Loftis threw incomplete on the conversion pass to end the game.

Duke opened the first overtime with Todd Pelino’s 49-yard field goal. Noah Burnette countered from 24 yards out for North Carolina.

Loftis threw a 30-yard, fourth-down pass to Moore with 41 seconds to play as Duke was on the verge of victory. Burnette’s fifth field goal of regulation came as time expired from 43 yards out.

Moore’s second touchdown catch of the game came as Loftis was pressured, but a coverage breakdown left Moore open for the Blue Devils’ third touchdown in the final 10 minutes.

Maye threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Bryson Nesbit with 1:55 remaining for North Carolina’s final lead of regulation.

Jordan Waters scored two rushing touchdowns for Duke in a span of slightly more than four minutes to wipe out a 12-point, fourth-quarter hole and set up the frantic finish.

Maye completed 28 of 44 passes for 342 yards with an interception, while also rushing for two touchdowns. Tez Walker made seven catches for 162 yards, while running back Omarion Hampton gained 169 yards on 31 carries with a touchdown.

North Carolina (8-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost its previous two ACC games when it was unable to protect double-digit leads, but Saturday night’s result kept the Tar Heels in contention for a spot in the league championship game. Duke (6-4, 3-3) has lost three of its last four games, all to ranked teams.

Waters ran 21 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with 5:21 remaining. The Blue Devils converted on a two-point conversion pass.

North Carolina coach Mack Brown, who’s in his second stint as coach of the team, has a string of 13 consecutive wins against Duke.

Loftis, a freshman making his second start because of injuries to other Duke quarterbacks, was 16-for-28 passing for 189 yards. Waters ran for 113 yards on 20 attempts.

Trailing 26-14 after Hampton’s 2-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter, Duke put together a seven-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Waters’ 13-yard touchdown run with 9:41 remaining.

The Blue Devils were successful on an onside kick, and then they drove for the go-ahead touchdown using eight plays. That march included picking up a fourth-and-1 conversion.

The Tar Heels, playing in their home finale, had three drives of 10 or more plays in the first half, but ended up with a touchdown and the first two of Burnette’s three first-half field goals. He was good from 23, 31 and 25 yards. The last of those gave North Carolina a 16-14 lead.

Duke rarely had much going its way in the first half until scoring two touchdowns in a span of slightly more than three minutes.

Loftis threw for 10 yards to Moore for a touchdown. On the next North Carolina snap, Jaylen Stinson intercepted Maye and the Blue Devils had the ball at the Tar Heels’ 14-yard line. Loftis ran 3 yards for a touchdown.

Maye opened the scoring on a 1-yard run on the game’s first possession.

Duke punted to end its first two possessions, while the Tar Heels didn’t punt until the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media