Obviously, the most important thing in the upcoming North Carolina Tar Heels football season is how they play and their win-loss record. With Drake Maye returning, expectations are decently high and Carolina are set to start the season ranked in what could be a crucial season for the program.
However, we’re not going to quite focus on how the team will do in this piece. Instead, we’re going to take a look at how some individual players will do for the Tar Heels this season. No, we’re going to exactly predict how many yards Player X will rush for or how many sacks Player Y will record, instead, we’re going dig into the media guide to see what players could potentially write their name in UNC’s record book, starting with the offensive side of the ball.
As mentioned, all eyes will be on Maye this season.
Last season, Maye set Carolina’s single-season passing yards record when he went for 4321 in UNC’s 14 games. He could theoretically top that if he averages 332 yards in 12 regular season games, plus a bowl. That number drops to 309 per game if UNC make the ACC Championship Game again.
Considering Maye’s status as a likely high NFL Draft pick, this will probably be his last season at UNC. That likely takes the all-time UNC passing yard record — currently held by Sam Howell. Maye is currently 5873 yards short of that, and if he were to get that, he would have put up the second most passing yards in a season in FBS history.
On the passing touchdowns front, it’s a similar story where Maye could maybe set the single game and single season records, but career is a probably a bridge too far.
As far as the people catching his passes, no Carolina receiver is currently in the top ten of any stats, but it’s always possible someone emerges to get high up in a single season category. It’s a similar story for rushing records.
On defense one record to watch out for will be tackles, specifically with linebacker Cedric Gray. Last year, Gray led UNC with 145 tackles, which got him just outside UNC’s single season top ten. If he’s as good as he potentially could be, he could put up similar numbers. The current record is currently 171 by Buddy Curry in 1971.
Meanwhile, if Gray just matches that 145 from last year, he would takes his career total to 392, which would take him fifth in UNC’s all-time record list.
Thanks in part to getting a fifth season due to covid, Ben Kiernan could do some damage in the punting record book. He comes into this season at 8175 career punting yards on 187 attempts. That puts him 91 career attempts behind UNC’s all-time leader, and 3345 career yards away. No offense to him, but I would prefer he not breaking either of those all-time marks.
One special teams player I would like to see rise up some lists is place kicker Noah Burnette. His 57 extra points made last year was good for third on the single season UNC record list. It wold take 68 on the season for him to hold the record on his own. Another good season — and two if he’s still around for 2024 — could see him get close to Casey Barth’s all-time record of 160 PATs. It’s a similar story for him with field goals, although getting to Barth’s 66 there could be a little difficult.
Besides those, there’s always a chance that someone who’s not yet on the record radar to have a breakout season and get himself in that discussion. Either way, it’ll be fun to find out.