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The Daily Tar Heel

Transfers, young faces and depth chart climbers complete a renewed UNC secondary unit

Junior defensive back Giovanni Biggers (27) celebrates at UNC's game against Florida State on Oct. 9 at Kenan Stadium. The Heels lost 35-25.

During the 0-4 stretch that ended UNC´s 2022 season, eight games were decided by less than a touchdown.

The Tar Heel defense drowned last year, allowing just over 30 points and 436.5 yards per game, with over half of those yards coming through the air. To add insult to injury, the Tar Heels also faltered in crucial situations, especially at the beginning of the season, giving up 40 points in the fourth quarter to App State and letting Notre Dame’s new starting quarterback throw a career-high in yards.

Assistant head coach for defense Gene Chizik will try to cut down on yards per contest and increase interceptions during the upcoming season — the second year of his second stint with the Tar Heels. With additions like Alijah Huzzie, young faces such as Tayon Halloway and depth chart climber Marcus Allen, the Tar Heels expect a stronger defensive stand. 

With most Power Five teams playing with three receiver variations, the addition of 20-year veteran Jason Jones as the new cornerbacks coach will bring some advancements. Jones has devoted his life to the secondary, bringing years of experience with corners and safeties as well as six years as a defensive coordinator at Ole Miss.  

Alijah Huzzie

The junior transfer from East Tennessee State started 30 games for the Buccaneers, notching 179 tackles, 12 interceptions, and claimed a first-team FCS All-American award and first-team All-SoCon honors. 

During training camp, Chizik described Huzzie as an exciting player with good football instincts and one who is versatile in the corner spot. Huzzie made his debut with the Tar Heels during spring practice and began to work his way up the depth chart. 

While Huzzie had minor injuries and did not appear in the spring game, Brown and Chizik expect to see a fully prepared Huzzie against South Carolina. 

Marcus Allen

In his true freshman season, Marcus Allen got his first start during the ACC championship game against Clemson, recording a pass breakup and five tackles. Allen had his best day with eight tackles in the Tar Heels final game against Oregon in the Holiday Bowl. 

The sophomore is tailored to fit the corner position at 6-foot-1 with a lengthy frame, speed and the ability to play off the ball. In fall camp, Allen said it’s not up to one singular position to revamp the defense, and that the entire unit plans to come out guns blazing and redefine last year’s lackluster narrative. 

Tayon Holloway 

Tayon Holloway is another youngster who has soared up the depth charts for the Tar Heels. The redshirt freshman out of Green Run High School saw snaps at both receiver and defensive back in high school, giving him valuable ball and route reading skills. 

Although Holloway has flown under the radar due to a small amount of play last season, he has evolved into a technically sound defender with excellent ball skills. According to Huzzie, not only did Holloway bounce back from an injury but is also one of the Tar Heel’s most underrated players who is sure to bolster UNC's defense. 

Giovanni Biggers

Graduate student Giovanni Biggers is a returning veteran on the defensive end of the ball who started all 14 games at defensive back last year. Biggers made 69 tackles over his last season. Against App State, he recorded a career-high of 10 tackles and had a critical fumble recovery against Miami. 

DeAndre Boykins

Another name UNC fans may have heard previously is junior linebacker DeAndre Boykins. Boykins has a unique skill set with a physicality that allows him to slot in as the “big nickel” in UNC’s defensive spread. The junior can cover slot receivers as well as support an unproven defense line by jamming the alley to stop the run. 


@dthsports |

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