Even as the North Carolina Tar Heels kept putting up wins, one of the storylines surrounding them early in the season was the Tez Walker situation. If you’re somehow unaware, Walker was a transfer into Chapel Hill for this season, coming over from Kent State. Due to reasons seemingly only known to the NCAA, he was ruled ineligible to start this season, as he had actually begun his college career at North Carolina Central — for whom he never actually played due to COVID cancelling their 2020 season. After an infuriatingly long process, someone eventually came to their scenes and Walker began his UNC career last week against Syracuse.
While he had a perfectly fine game last week, it was mostly nice to see him out on the field more than anything. However, this week against Miami, we saw that he can absolutely ball out. Walker led the Tar Heels with six catches for 132 yards, three of which went for touchdowns, as UNC beat Miami 41-31.
Walker’s first touchdown got UNC off to a decent start, as a 18-yard catch on the Heels’ second drive gave them a 7-0 lead. However, the other two touchdowns helped Carolina turn the tide of the game for good. After they went into halftime trailing by three, North Carolina scored on two of their first three drives of the second half, turning a 17-14 Miami lead into a 28-17 UNC one. To finish things off, he also corralled an onside kick late as the Hurricanes attempted a rally. In addition to his catches, he was also given a couple rushing attempts, one of which went for 20 yards. It was clear to see why he was such a heralded addition coming into this season.
Running a very, very close second was running back Omarion Hampton. On 24 attempts, Hampton rushed for 197 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 20 yards and another touchdown. Pure stats wise, you could argue that he should be the choice for player of the game, but it was just a little hard to overlook the narrative of Walker’s performance. Drake Maye had a bit of an off game, completing just 17 of 33 passes. He still finished with four touchdowns because: lol.
The final stats on the defensive side of things don’t look too overwhelming, but they had their moments, turning over the Hurricanes four times. A big part of that was an excellent performance from Cedric Gray. The linebacker recorded 10 tackles, an interception, and also recovered a fumble for one of the turnovers. Kamion Rucker was also good, putting up 2.5 sacks.
Thanks to the win, UNC are now 6-0. They’ve done most of that without Walker, but on Saturday against Miami we saw just how good they potentially could be with him.