The 2021 season hasn’t gone quite as well as some may have hoped for UNC football. However, North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell has still had a great junior season. Howell has thrown for 2,704 yards (No. 5 in the ACC) and 22 touchdowns (No. 5 in the ACC), while averaging 9.0 yards per attempts (No. 4 in the ACC). On the ground, Howell has rushed for 728 yards and nine touchdowns, too.
With the 2021 regular season nearing the final stretch, it was announced that Howell would participate in North Carolina’s senior day activities this Saturday — when the Tar Heels host Wofford. After that, UNC plays at NC State to closeout the regular season.
Howell is also set to graduate this December. As one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft, the path seems paved: Howell has 2-3 games left in his college career.
That, however, may not be the case. During a video conference this week, Howell said he’s not ready to declare either way — return for his senior season or head to the draft.
Other corners of the football media landscape have issued similar statements: Howell is currently undecided.
“I’m told that Sam Howell has made no decision, as of right now, as to what his next-level move is going to be,” Pauline said. “He’s in between whether he is going to go back for another year or enter the NFL Draft.”@TonyPauline on the UNC QB ⤵️https://t.co/wJD6GOCbrX
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) November 15, 2021
The safe money should land on Howell leaving for the NFL, although things are different now in major college athletics, thanks in part to NIL. Howell could return, make a lot of money in endorsements, boost his draft stock and try to get UNC to an ACC title game.
If Howell departs, obviously UNC would have to start over at the quarterback position. There’s talent on the roster — Jacolby Chiswell, Drake Maye — but Howell is a proven and really good commodity at the most important position on the field.
Either way, whomever is under center next year will have the ability to work with one of the top receivers in the country: Josh Downs.