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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC football transfers looking to make instant impact in 2023

The North Carolina football team added nine transfers to its roster last week, including three offensive players, four defensive players and two specialists.

The incoming transfer class is ranked No. 12 in the nation per the 247Sports Composite and features experienced players on both sides of the ball, including standouts from the ACC, MAC, Sun Belt and American Athletic Conference. 

While the Tar Heels had a productive season on offense – ranking 19th in the country – defensively, the team struggled for the majority of the season. North Carolina finished the season ranked 116th in total defense and last in the ACC. The team gave up an average of 6.14 yards per play and 436.5 yards per game and dropped four consecutive games to end the season with a 9-5 record. 

Transfers on both sides of the ball will aim to help improve the Tar Heels in key areas, from wide receiver to defensive back. Here is a look at how some of these players are expected to contribute:

Nate McCollum

McCollum is a junior wide receiver coming from Georgia Tech and will look to fill the hole left after two-time All-ACC wide receiver Josh Downs declared for the NFL Draft. Although McCollum primarily played in the slot last season, head coach Mack Brown hopes he can be a versatile player and be used across the field.

During McCollum’s career at Georgia Tech, he caught 75 passes, totaling 778 yards and four touchdowns. This past season against Georgia — which ranked top-10 in total defense and won the national championship — McCollum tallied six catches for 65 yards. 

Devontez Walker

A junior wide receiver transfer from Kent State, Walker will bring speed and reliable hands to the Tar Heels as an outside receiver. In 20 total games at Kent State, Walker reeled in 63 passes for 1,045 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

Similarly to McCollum, Walker also had a standout performance against Georgia last season, posting 106 receiving yards and one touchdown on seven catches. 

Amari Gainer

Graduate jack linebacker Amari Gainer is a transfer from Florida State, and leaves the Seminoles as their active leading tackler with 210 total tackles. He played inside linebacker for FSU, and Brown hopes Gainer can help set the edge for the Tar Heels, an area that the Heels struggled with during the season.

Derrik Allen

Senior safety Derrik Allen transferred from Georgia Tech, and will bring experience to the North Carolina secondary. This past season, he started two games and played in all 12 of the Yellow Jackets’ games. In those 12 outings, Allen racked up 46 tackles, had one interception and two pass break-ups.

Prior to his career with the Yellow Jackets, Allen played at Notre Dame but redshirted his first year. 

Armani Chatman

As another senior defensive back, Armani Chatman transferred from Virginia Tech. Throughout his four years as a Hokie, Chatman played in 49 games and started 25 of those games. Over his career, he racked up 89 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions and 20 pass break-ups.  

Alijah Huzzie

The fourth defensive transfer is redshirt junior defensive back Alijah Huzzie. Huzzie is an experienced player, playing four years at East Tennessee State, featuring in 34 games and starting the final 30 of his career. 

Brown said he hopes Huzzie can help the Tar Heels create more interceptions. UNC ranked 79th in the nation in interceptions, only picking the ball off nine times during the season. In Huzzie’s career at East Tennessee State, he had 12 interceptions, and had the second-most in the FCS last year with six.  

@mdmaynard74

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@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com