UNC quarterback Drake Maye declares for NFL draft, won't play in bowl game

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Monday, December 11, 2023
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, one of the top NFL prospects in college football made it official Monday, announcing that he is forgoing the remainder of his college eligibility to declare for the NFL draft.

Maye, a redshirt sophomore, started all 26 games of his career during the last two seasons at UNC. The school confirmed that Maye will not play in the Duke's Mayo Bowl against West Virginia. He'll leave school with a 17-9 record as a starter.

"Just sitting down with my family and the people I trust the most in life, including my coaches," Maye told ESPN. "This is the best decision for me and my future. It was my life-long dream to play quarterback at North Carolina, and I get a chance to check off another dream and play quarterback in the NFL."

Maye is expected to be one of the top QBs chosen in the draft and could go in the top few picks.

During his North Carolina career, Maye threw for 8,018 yards, which is No. 5 all-time on UNC's passing list. His 63 touchdowns leave him No. 4 overall on UNC's all-time list.

Maye led UNC to the ACC championship game in 2022, where the Tar Heels lost to Clemson. It was a season that began 9-1 and ascended to as high as No. 13 in the rankings. This season, UNC began the year 6-0 and climbed as high as No. 10 before settling for an 8-4 regular-season finish.

"This is the place I always wanted to play quarterback," Maye said to ESPN about UNC. "Thinking back over my time in college, I couldn't imagine playing anywhere else. Last spring, when you heard rumors flying after the season about me transferring somewhere else, it wouldn't have sat right and with me and my family and the legacy I'm trying to leave at Carolina. I wanted to play here at North Carolina, and I wouldn't change a thing."

Maye said he took a philosophy final on Monday afternoon, and he's gradually preparing for the next phase of his career -- preparing for the NFL draft. He's ready to show the NFL what type of player, competitor and person they'll be getting.

"First off, moving on from college and getting back into workout mode and really just learning the steps of preparing for the NFL Draft," Maye said of the upcoming weeks. "Not only physically but mentally. Playing quarterback in the NFL is a mental game. I want to show the NFL not only my competitive edge but that I'm a winner and a leader and I'm ready to take on a franchise."

As of right now, the Chicago Bears have the top pick via a trade with the Carolina Panthers, who have the league's worst record. The New England Patriots are slotted No. 2 currently at 3-10 and have an easier strength of schedule than the Arizona Cardinals, who are also 3-10, as of this week.

Maye is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds and fits the archetype of the classic NFL quarterback.

For Maye, the decision to leave UNC and declare for the draft resonates more than most. He grew up dreaming of playing for North Carolina, much like his dad, former UNC quarterback Mark, and older brother, Luke, who starred on UNC's basketball team. He's lived at UNC with his brother, Beau, who is also on the Tar Heels hoops team. His mother, Aimee, also went to UNC.

Maye pointed out in an interview Monday that he flipped his commitment from Alabama to UNC, an indicator of how badly he wanted to play there. He pointed out his appreciation for coach Mack Brown multiple times and also wanted to thank both his family and the UNC fan base for their support.

"The fans mean a lot to me and what they've done and the support they've given me and my family, it goes a long way," Maye said.

He added: "The people make the place. Just the people are special in Chapel Hill. It's the best college town I think there is. Just seeing that Carolina blue every day, it's one of the best color schemes in the land."

UNC also confirmed Monday that offensive lineman Corey Gaynor, linebacker Cedric Gray, and wide receiver Tez Walker will also not participate in the bowl game. All have declared for the NFL Draft.

"We want to thank these young men for all they've contributed to Carolina football during their times with the program," head coach Mack Brown said. "It's been a pleasure to watch them grow and flourish both on the field and off. We wish them nothing but the best and look forward to watching them represent UNC as they move on to the next chapters of their careers."

Defensive lineman Myles Murphy will participate in the bowl game, UNC said.

ESPN contributed.