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Transfer talk, $5M NIL handles all 'rumours'

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Six months ago, North Carolina rookie quarterback Drake Maye wasn’t sure he’d earn the starting job at the school. He has since emerged as the top 2024 NFL draft pick and the unwitting face of the free market that has emerged in college football.

In an interview with ESPN on Thursday, Maye reflected on the past few weeks, which included a social media post declaring he would remain at UNC as a way to combat rumors that he would be joining the transfer portal. Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi fanned the flames when he said this week that two schools offered Maye $5 million for a transfer.

“These rumors weren’t really true,” he told ESPN. He added, “Pitt’s coach ended up putting this out there. I don’t know what it was about. You have to go on the transfer portal to talk to these schools and hear these offers. For me, I think college football is going to have to. do something. There was nothing for me or my family directly offered by any of these other schools. Nothing was said or offered to the Mayes.”

Maye has thrown for 4,115 yards and 35 touchdowns this year, leading UNC (9-4) to an ACC title game appearance and a Holiday Bowl bid.

In the wake of that breakout season, both UNC head coach Mack Brown (“Big Money”) and Narduzzi publicly indicated that Maye had big money offers from other schools. No one named the schools, but Brown hinted that they were the schools that typically show up in recruiting rankings.

Maye agreed to a NIL deal with UNC’s Heels4Life program and denies that he and his family have ever received offers directly from other schools.

Maye added that he had heard of outside interest only “through hearsay”. He said, “Some people were texting my high school coach about it. That’s mostly what happened, people reached out to some of my reps and the NIL media people.”

Maye’s family has deep roots on the UNC campus. Both of his parents were graduates there and his brother, Luke, hit one of the most famous shots in UNC basketball history in 2017. Drake Maye lives with another brother, Beau, who is a UNC basketball understudy.

Maye grew up loving UNC and said that no other school could give him “the same heartbeat feeling” that UNC does.

“It wouldn’t go down well, especially with my whole family…” he said. “Changing it after everything the Mayes went through would not represent what the university means to me or how much it means to me to go there. It would mess up the mojo and everything we built there. That Carolina blue is special. There is no another color in the world so meaningful.”

Maye’s father, Mark Maye, is a former quarterback for UNC and worked for UNC football under Mack Brown during his first tenure at the school. Mark Maye said the family never discussed Drake leaving UNC, despite there being “a lot of rumors” of their son entering the NCAA transfer portal.

“North Carolina was where he wanted to be,” Mark Maye told ESPN. “He never mentioned anything, ever, about wanting to see what’s out there or anything like that.”

Maye’s NIL deal with UNC’s Heels4Life program includes monetary incentives and is also expected to have a charitable component. Maye said she has worked locally with Ronald McDonald House and Table NC, which delivers healthy food to local children. He is interested in doing charity work in his home area of ​​Charlotte.

Graham Boone, chief executive of Heels4Life, said Maye emphasized to him that the deals are available to his teammates. He said the Maye deal was “not a negotiation” but more an “offer of our support for him.”

“We went out of our way to make sure UNC was the best place for him,” Boone said. “We wanted to make sure he had no interest in going elsewhere. As Coach Brown said, he turned down a lot of money [elsewhere]🇧🇷 That doesn’t mean Heels4Life didn’t give a very, very fair amount.”

Maye said her affinity for UNC won out.

“Sadly, I think money is becoming a reason why kids go places,” he said. “Where I’m playing, with and for Coach Brown, only that Carolina blue trumps the money part. I don’t think any amount of money from any school [would sway me]🇧🇷 Nowadays, people are subscribing to NIL. It puts a lot of pressure on these kids. If I were to transfer and go somewhere, it wouldn’t be the same.”

Maye’s return to UNC will mean one of the most hyped seasons in years, as he has a chance to become the NFL’s No. 1 overall draft pick. 1 of the program. There is expected to be a season-long debate in 2023 between Maye and USC’s Caleb Williams, the Heisman Trophy winner, for the 2024 NFL draft pick.

For now, recognizing that there is potential fluidity on the roster, UNC projects returning 17 of the 22 starters. For Boone and Heels4Life, they see retaining Maye and delivering deals to his teammates as a way to capitalize on the momentum. He pointed out that UNC “has been on the precipice” of being a national program several times in history. “Drake represents renewed interest from our fan base,” he said, “so we can take the final step.”

Maye told ESPN that Brown made him an active part of UNC’s search for a new offensive coordinator after Phil Longo left Chapel Hill for Wisconsin. UNC brought in UCF offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, and Maye said he received Zooms or phone calls with several finalists for the job.

He said Lindsey is likely to bring aspects of UCF’s racing game, which should help bolster the effectiveness of UNC’s red zone. (UNC ranks 58th in the FBS in red-zone touchdowns.) He’s heartened that Lindsey has worked to develop NFL quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham and Nick Mullens at previous stops at Auburn and Southern Miss.

“It was awesome meeting you,” Maye said. “He looks amazing.”

Maye published an Instagram post in early December to announce he was returning, a way he said to combat “rumors and speculation” about his departure. As he summed up the past month, he chuckled.

“It really didn’t go down much,” he said. “There was speculation and a post on Instagram and a trainer said [I] refused this amount of money which I had never heard of. That’s basically the gist.”