“Be the one.”
Whether you’ve seen it on a T-shirt or on the big screen in Kenan Stadium, UNC football head coach Mack Brown’s slogan for the team has defined this new era of Tar Heel football.
And the best season has yet to come.
In their 2020 campaign, the Tar Heels boasted a 8-4 record — the best the program has seen in five years — and produced five draft picks.
And with a promising Heisman candidate at quarterback, a total of 18 returning starters, and the No. 14 recruiting class in the nation, Brown’s team looks to become a top contender in the ACC this fall.
For North Carolina football, to “be the one” is more than just being the best version of oneself as an individual; it’s about holding oneself accountable to being one for the team.
This accountability is why junior quarterback Sam Howell has exceeded expectations in the program. Stepping into a leadership position last season, Howell threw an impressive 3,586 yards, 30 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
In his first two years as a Tar Heel, Howell threw more touchdown passes than former Clemson quarterback and No. 1 draft pick Trevor Lawrence did in his first two seasons, 68 compared to 66. Just as Lawrence stayed through his junior year with the Tigers, this season will likely be Howell's last before declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft.
The dynamic passer is also a projected candidate for the 2021 Heisman trophy. While he's not the favorite, Howell faces comparable odds — 10-1 according to bet365 — to Georgia's JT Daniels and Clemson's D.J. Uiagalelei.