Wednesday, November 29, 2023

North Carolina WR Tez Walker goes off against Miami, scores first TD since NCAA eligibility reversal

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North Carolina wide receiver Tez Walker could be the player that takes North Carolina’s already potent passing attack to another level as the No. 12 Tar Heels celebrate their first 6-0 start since 1997. One of the top wide receiver transfers from the portal scored three touchdowns on just six catches for 132 yards in the Tar Heels’ 41-31 win against No. 25 Miami. That in his second game in uniform. 

Walker’s high-profile battle with the NCAA over a transfer waiver forced him to sit the first four games of the season, but he was able to play in Week 6 against Syracuse after the NCAA reversed its decision, citing “new information.” In his debut, he caught six passes for 43 yards.

Saturday marked his first touchdown, however, and his impact was unmistakably woven into the fabric of that game. He opened the scoring for both teams in the first quarter with an 18-yard touchdown. Facing a long third-and-goal, quarterback Drake Maye connected with Walker, who got a step on the defender and snagged Maye’s pass in the end zone.

Walker made an even bigger impact in the second half with the Tar Heels down three points. Five plays into the third quarter, Maye threw a dime to Walker as he raced past a deep defensive back for a 56-yard touchdown.

Walker and Maye were back at it two drives later. The Tar Heels took over on Miami’s 23-yard line following a Tyler Van Dyke interception. On third-and-20, Maye fit a ball to Walker, who took it the rest of the way to give North Carolina a two-possession lead.

Walker’s journeyman career took on offseason attention when the NCAA denied his waiver to play for the Tar Heels immediately after transferring from Kent State. The NCAA had just changed its rules for two-time transfers and Walker had a frustrating journey through two previous schools — East Tennessee State and NC Central — where he never played due to injury and the COVID-19 pandemic. He then transferred to the Golden Flashes, where he emerged as a 2022 All-MAC selection after logging 921 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. 

Now in the lineup with the Tar Heels, he’s making his presence known. At 6-0, North Carolina is one of two undefeated teams left in the ACC, along with Florida State. The offense is what drives its chances towards an ACC Championship Game appearance. And now there’s another skill player to help that push. 

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