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UNC Football: Drake Maye and Cedric Gray named preseason AP All-Americans

The two best players on both sides of the ball earn early national recognition.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 SDCCU Holiday Bowl Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Associated Press announced earlier this afternoon that UNC quarterback Drake Maye and linebacker Cedric Gray were selected for their preseason All-American second team. This announcement arrives a little less than two weeks before UNC’s first game of the season against South Carolina.

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: USC quarterback Caleb Williams was the man to beat out Maye for the first-team spot. He is another highly-talented quarterback that is expected to have a big season for the Trojans. It was known all along that it’d be tough for voters to decide between Williams, Maye, and FSU’s Jordan Travis, and now we will get to see who wins the true first-team honor once the 2023 regular season concludes.

Maye finished his freshman season with 342 completions for 4,321 yards, 38 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. He also rushed for 698 yards and 7 touchdowns, which made him one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in college football. This year he is thought to be a Heisman candidate, and some experts are even predicting that he could be the #1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

As for Cedric Gray, he finished his junior season with a team-high 82 solo tackles, 63 assisted tackles, a sack, two interceptions, and two fumbles. UNC defensive coordinator Gene Chizik had a hard time during the 2022 season getting his group to play the way that he wanted them to play, but Gray consistently showed that he was arguably the best player on the field on that side of the ball. Chizik is optimistic that we will see improvements this season, and a lot of what this team will be able to do will begin and end with his star linebacker.

UNC’s season kicks off Saturday, September 2nd at 7:30pm/ET against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC.