Drake Maye, North Carolina expected to get boost at wide receiver

On3 imageby:Matt Zenitz09/09/23

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Even though North Carolina won’t have Tez Walker this season after last week’s ruling from the NCAA, UNC and Drake Maye are at least set to have some additional talent at wide receiver starting today against Appalachian State.

Wide receiver Nate McCollum is expected to make his season debut for the Tar Heels versus App State today after missing the Tar Heels’ season-opener against South Carolina with a groin injury, a source tells On3.

McCollum, a transfer from Georgia Tech, is an NFL prospect who posted 60 catches for the Yellow Jackets last season. Heading into the season, NFL scouts viewed McCollum as a Day 3 prospect for the 2024 NFL draft.

In his last six games at Georgia Tech last season, the Class of 2020 four-star recruit had three touchdowns and three 100-yard receiving games, including a touchdown and more than 100 yards in two of the Yellow Jackets’ final three games. He had seven catches, 103 yards and a TD during a win over Virginia Tech and then eight catches, 101 yards and a touchdown the next week during a loss to Miami.

His expected availability is a positive development for North Carolina, especially in the wake of the unfortunate NCAA ruling on Walker, who was ruled ineligible during the summer and lost a final appeal on Thursday.

Walker, a transfer from Kent State, was a preseason All-ACC selection and had been set to be a top target for Maye and the Tar Heels’ passing game.

“The NCAA had an opportunity to demonstrate that this is a new membership organization by using common sense, reason and compassion to determine the eligibility of Tez Walker,” North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. “On eight different occasions, the organization had the opportunity to demonstrate it can make sound and reasonable decisions in the best interest of student-athletes based on individual circumstances. Instead, the NCAA made a maddening, frustrating and wrong decision — for Tez, for college football and for college athletics.”

Even without Walker and McCollum, North Carolina beat South Carolina, 31-17, last week. Maye threw for 269 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.

The Tar Heels are a 19.5-point favorite heading into the matchup against Appalachian State. In last year’s meeting between North Carolina and App State, the teams scored a combined 124 points during a 63-61 Tar Heels victory.