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'Tougher than ever before': Mack Brown talks roster management in second transfer portal window

20230415 - UNC 2023 SPRING FOOTBALL GAME
UNC redshirt first-year quarterback Drake Maye (10) runs with the ball during the 2023 Spring Football Game at Kenan Stadium on Saturday, April 15, 2023.

At North Carolina football’s Spring Game on Saturday, fans got a glimpse at what the team will look like next season – but not the full picture. 

Due to transfer portal guidelines, some of the players that played in UNC’s Spring Game might be gone by next week. For college football teams across the country, this is the new reality of coaching in the offseason. It’s a change that North Carolina coach Mack Brown said has made roster management “tougher than ever before.”

The transfer portal reopened Saturday after being closed since Jan. 18. This second window runs until April 30 and poses a challenge for coaches trying to put together a depth chart in the spring.  

“We may have a really good player leave Saturday or Sunday, I don’t know,” Brown said in a press conference earlier this week. “But I haven’t really felt that since January.”

Brown remarked after the Spring Game that UNC football general manager Patrick Suddes informed him that 17 players across the nation had entered the portal by 8 a.m. on Saturday. By the end of the day, The Athletic reported that 90 FBS scholarship players had indicated plans to transfer.

With the reopening of the portal, Brown will have to adjust to potential transfers leaving empty holes in his roster as well as evaluate possible additions to his squad. Suddes, who works in recruiting, will have a heavy hand in UNC’s navigation of the process — relaying calls to Brown and the coaching staff as well as connecting them to portal players who want to transfer to North Carolina.

Brown has been candid with both players and their parents about the portal, and he has encouraged athletes to do what they think is best for them. After the Spring Game, Brown also stated that he and his coaching staff will be supportive of decisions and help his players in any way he can.  

While Brown has been open in regards to the portal, players have a different perspective. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Drake Maye said the transfer portal is a topic that he does not hear too much about in the locker room.

“It’s kind of a rough subject to talk about because you don’t really want to see somebody go,” he said. “You spend so much time with them.” 

“I definitely think it’s [the portal] a good thing,” senior linebacker Cedric Gray said. “Last year we had Noah Taylor come in for us through the transfer portal and he did a great job for us."

UNC’s defense was active during the last transfer window, recruiting graduate defensive back Armani Chatman from Virginia Tech, redshirt junior defensive back Alijah Huzzie from East Tennessee State, graduate safety graduate safety Derrik Allen from Georgia Tech and graduate linebacker Amari Gainer from Florida State. 

All of these transfers will add considerable depth to North Carolina’s defense. Gainer particularly received high praise from Brown, who will look to integrate the veteran in UNC’s depth chart at the jack position.

As the spring season wraps up, Brown and the position coaches will hold exit interviews with each player to ensure everyone is on the same page.

“We’ve been so honest with the transfer portal,” he said. “If a guy doesn’t want to be here, we’ve said 'Go, go somewhere else.' So far it’s been working.”

@mdmaynard74

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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