Following in the footsteps of former teammate Khafre Brown, wide receiver Emery Simmons has entered the transfer portal. Simmons finished his junior season with the Tar Heels with 11 catches for 243 yards and a touchdown. He was notably absent in last Saturday’s loss against Notre Dame because Phil Longo had receivers that he wanted to start instead. Only five receivers were played for the entire game, one of them being Justin Olsen who had two catches for 25 yards.
Here’s what Phil Longo had to say about Simmons not getting the start against the Irish in Saturday’s loss per Inside Carolina:
“The reason that Emery didn’t play (vs. Notre Dame) really is that we started with Justin Olson ... it had nothing to do with what Emery did or didn’t do,” UNC offensive coordinator Phil Longo said on Monday. “(Simmons) had a good week of practice like he always does. He is probably one of our most consistent guys from a dependability standpoint. Justin was running good routes and getting open and producing and we were in a tight game. And the mentality in any position that if things are going well with a certain personnel out there, we are going to roll with them for a little bit. It was just a matter of Justin playing well and not needing to come out for fatigue or anything like that. We rolled with him for a little bit.”
It’s pretty easy to try and speculate as to why there are players, and more specifically receivers, entering the transfer portal so early. There likely isn’t one specific reason that can be given, but it is worth noting that Mack Brown said this would happen. During Monday’s press conference, Brown had this to say when asked about his coaching staff’s performance:
“There’s always things that we can improve. And I think that this team’s kind of in a transition with young and old. I said that in preseason, nobody listened. And it’s still that way. So you’ve got some younger guys that are playing more than some older guys and that makes it tough. That’s why we’ll probably see more guys in the transfer portal after the season, if not before. But I do think we’re seeing a lot of young guys get better and play well. We’ll lose some super players like Jeremiah Gemmel, but you’re not going to lose a lot of seniors off that defense. And we’ve just got to continue to get better and better and better.”
Entering the transfer portal along with Emery Simmons is sophomore defensive lineman, Kristian Varner. In his two years with the team, Varner recorded two solo tackles and one assisted tackle, and was listed as the backup to Myles Murphy. Bateman spoke highly of Varner in the past, but ultimately he only saw 41 snaps, with 20 of them being against Virginia Tech.
Things look really crazy right now with all of the transfers, but ultimately it sounds like Brown anticipated this and hopefully is prepared to fill in any gaps via recruiting. I wouldn’t be surprised if more are on the way at some point, so check back in with us for more news and updates.