Last week, we talked about the fact that we expected more activity in the transfer portal once the Spring Game was done. We were waiting for who would be the first to open it up, and it turns out it was Don Chapman.
It also turns out that time is a circle.
First, the departures. Once Chapman left, it appears the continued exodus from the defense was on. On Thursday, Gabe Stephens decided it was time for him to move on and put his name into the portal. Stephens was a redshirt sophomore but didn’t have any appearances in his Carolina career. The outside linebacker only made it to the second team in the Spring Game, and it appears that after this offseason he figured it was time to find another spot.
On Friday, Bryson Jennings and Ladaeson DeAndre (Dae Dae) Hollins joined the group in the portal. Jennings redshirted this past season, not appearing in any games for the Tar Heels, and so the defensive lineman is going to have all four years left to play for another school. Hollins, on the other hand, is at the other end of his career. He’s been at Carolina since 2018, making him the last player under the prior coaching staff still with the team. He actually toyed with going to the portal back in December before coming back to play in the postseason games. He played in all 14 games, but stats-wise posted a single tackle just three times.
A big loss then came on Monday with Ja’Qurious Conley announced he was headed out. Conley may have only played in two games last season, but it marked the end of a promising career at Carolina that was derailed in November 2021 to a knee injury. He needed almost a full year to get back, and when he did, it was just on special teams. With some of the incoming transfers, and the fact that Conley came to Carolina under Jay Bateman’s secondary-focused system, Conley found himself burried on the depth chart at safety. He’ll be a senior next year but with the Covid year he’ll be able to give someone two years.
That said, the loss of Conley seemed to create a ripple effect for the man who started the transfers: Don Chapman.
On Tuesday, Chapman pulled his name from the portal, meaning he’s going to spend his fifth year in Chapel Hill after all. The secondary room is now a little thinner than it was when he put his name in last week, and since he’s coming off having the start in the Holiday Bowl last season, he probably figures he now has a shot to at least see some significant snaps in his final year in college.
Amazingly, we still aren’t done with all of the craziness of the portal. The spring season of the portal is open through this Sunday, April 30th, so we still have a few days of names coming in and out of it. Once it closes, though, Carolina will know exactly what scholarships they have to give and where their needs are.
Thus, with all these names going out, there will be other ones coming in.