North Carolina’s football program continues to find and land talent. On Friday afternoon it was announced that Clemson defensive back Kyler McMichael had entered the comically named transfer portal. On Saturday afternoon, he announced his intent to transfer to the Heels. He is the third player to transfer to UNC this offseason. All three players have been defensive backs.
McMichael was originally a 4-star recruit out of Greater Atlanta Christian School in Georgia. The 247 Sports Composite rankings listed him as the #56 overall recruit in the 2018 class, the #8 player in Georgia, and the #8 overall defensive back in the nation. The rising sophomore will now be joining his second college program in as many years. He will also be reunited with former high school teammate Trey Morrison.
Last season, McMichael appeared in 12 games and saw action on 101 snaps. He received playing time in both the secondary and special teams. Despite contributing as a true freshman and winning a national title at Clemson, there were reports that McMichael was going to be passed over on the depth chart by former 5-star recruit Derion Kendrick. That move is probably more of a testament to Clemson’s insane amount of talent than it is an indictment on McMichael’s skill level or potential. The Tigers can play 5-star recruits over 4-star, top-60 defensive backs. North Carolina (and approximately 125 other football programs), do not have that luxury.
Mack Brown’s staff has shown a raised awareness about potential depth issues in the secondary. K.J Sails transferred during the spring, C.J Cotman medically retired, CoreyBell moved to wide receiver, and Bryson Richardson suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury last month. To help remedy the long-term issue of depth, the staff has looked to the transfer market for an injection of talent into the depleted position group.
Freshman Cam’Ron Kelly transferred from Auburn to UNC in April, and is awaiting approval from the NCAA for immediate eligibility. In June, Virginia Tech’s Bryce Watts made the same move, though the rising junior DB will likely sit out this season. Now McMichael becomes the third offseason transfer into the secondary. He will also likely sit out this year, but will have three years of eligibility starting in 2020. This is all in addition to the recent scholarship offer to 2020 4-star defensive back Dontae Manning, who recently decommitted from Oklahoma. UNC’s defensive rebirth will continue to be a work in progress under Mack Brown, but there is no doubt that Dre Bly’s presence on the staff has been the driving force for the sudden success in landing highly-touted defensive backs.
It should be noted that these transfers are different from the one-year graduate transfers UNC has attracted in previous years. All three transfers, who all come from Power 5 conferences, have anywhere from 2-4 years of eligibility. The coaching staff doesn’t see them as stopgaps to fill holes. They will be expected to be major contributors for multiple seasons.
As we’ll continually mention in the coming weeks and month, it can’t be said enough.
North Carolina Football is fun again.