With quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Drake Maye returning for the 2023 college football season, North Carolina is primed to factor into the race to win the ACC once again. Although Maye is enough to keep the Tar Heels in the mix to win every game on their schedule, both sides of the ball needed help in order to keep pace with Clemson and Florida State this offseason. Coach Mack Brown and his staff did exactly that, addressing needs from the transfer portal by adding two potential impact players at receiver and landing a couple of contributors for a struggling defense.
Which players are the biggest and most important additions for North Carolina through the transfer portal? Athlon Sports breaks down the transfers for the Tar Heels' offense and defense in 2023:
North Carolina Football: The Tar Heels' Most Important Transfer Portal Additions on Offense and Defense for 2023
Best Offensive Addition: WR Devontez Walker (from Kent State)
Quarterback Drake Maye needs a new go-to target to emerge after Josh Downs (94 catches for 1,029 yards and 11 TDs) departed Chapel Hill for the NFL. The Tar Heels added Walker and Georgia Tech transfer Nate McCollum from the portal to help right away, and both players should make an instant impact. Walker gets the nod as our top offensive addition after posting a dynamic season (58 catches for 921 yards and 11 TDs) at Kent State in '22.
McCollum makes the rare intraconference move from Georgia Tech to North Carolina to stay in the ACC. He grabbed 60 balls for 655 yards and three scores on a struggling offense last year and will be a key part of the Tar Heels' plans to replace Josh Downs.
OL Willie Lampkin (from Coastal Carolina)
Lampkin won a starting job on Coastal Carolina's offensive line as a true freshman and proceeded to earn all-conference honors in each of the next three years. The Florida native started all 38 games with the Chanticleers and showcased his versatility by playing both guard and center. Lampkin is likely to slot in at one of the guard spots for the Tar Heels.
Best Defensive Addition: LB Amari Gainer (from Florida State)
North Carolina ranked last in the ACC in sacks (17), but Gainer could help coordinator Gene Chizik change the outlook of the pass rush. The Florida State transfer recorded 19 tackles for a loss during his tenure in Tallahassee but will slide to an outside linebacker role after playing on the inside with the 'Noles.
Other Additions on Defense
CB Armani Chatman (from Virginia Tech)
Chatman will miss spring practice due to injury, so the Virginia Tech transfer will have some catching up to do in the fall. He started 25 games in his career with the Hokies, including 11 in '22. Per PFF, Chatman allowed 26 catches over 51 targets last year.
CB Alijah Huzzie (from East Tennessee State)
Huzzie's transfer from East Tennessee State to North Carolina didn't garner much national attention, but the Georgia native is an intriguing pickup for coordinator Gene Chizik. Huzzie earned FCS All-America honors last year after recording 59 tackles, six interceptions and 16 pass breakups. He's expected to push for snaps at corner this offseason.
S Derrik Allen (from Georgia Tech)
Allen will join his brother (Marcus) as potential starters in North Carolina's secondary for '23. The Georgia Tech transfer is coming off his best statistical year with the Yellow Jackets, recording 29 tackles and one interception over 12 games.
S Antavious Lane (from Georgia State)
Considering Lane is the fourth transfer defensive back in this article, it's a clear indicator the secondary is going to be a group up for grabs in terms of playing time this offseason. Lane won't arrive until the summer, but the Florida native will factor into the mix for '23. The Florida native had a prolific season at Georgia State last year, recording two picks and 87 tackles. Lane was a third-team All-Sun Belt selection for '22.
K Ryan Coe (from Cincinnati)
North Carolina is the third stop in Coe's collegiate tenure after beginning his career at FCS Delaware, followed by a one-year stint at Cincinnati in '22. He connected on 19 of 23 field goals with the Bearcats last season.
Podcast: Breaking Down the Biggest Spring QB Battles, Pac-12 Expansion and Examining the Latest Rule Changes in College Football
Discuss the news on NABUR, a place to have local conversations The Neighborhood Alliance for Better Understanding and Respect ✔ A site just for our local community ✔ Focused on facts, not misinformation ✔ Free for everyone