Mack Brown expects star QB Drake Maye to stick with UNC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After the season Drake Maye has had at North Carolina, coach Mack Brown understands there will be NIL offers to transfer, but he still expects his star quarterback to return to the Tar Heels next season.

During an ACC championship game news conference previewing the Saturday matchup against Clemson, Brown was asked whether he was worried about players like Maye being offered deals to play elsewhere next season.

"One of the real issues we've got in college football is people that are tampering with guys on your team and paying them money to leave," Brown said. "It's an issue that needs to get stopped.

"I sat down and did lunch with one of our starters the other day, and I said, 'Are you getting calls?' He said, 'Coach, I've got 15 places I can go.' He said, 'I'm not going anywhere.' I said, 'Are they offering you money?' He said, 'Yes, 100 percent.'"

Maye has thrown for 3,847 yards, 35 touchdowns and 5 touchdowns in a breakout redshirt freshman season in which he won ACC Player of the Year honors and is already being mentioned as a possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

He has a long family history at North Carolina -- his father played quarterback there, his older brother Luke won a national championship on the basketball team and his other brother Beau is currently on the basketball team.

"I don't think Drake will go anywhere because he's a Carolina family," Brown said. "Right now you look at our recruiting, it's not as high as it has been in the past. It's because every player that we've got that's coming is coming because he wants to come to the University of North Carolina, he wants to come for academics, and he's coming for the right reasons.

"Sadly enough we've probably lost five great players that aren't going to come that would have normally come if NIL hadn't been an issue. But that's just the world we live in."

Brown said he has asked all his players to let him know if they plan on entering the transfer portal, which officially opened up on Monday for underclassmen. Because the team is preparing for the ACC championship game, he said he and his staff have not had conversations with players about their future plans because they are focused on the game.

Brown said he would be willing to let players who want to transfer play in the bowl game to close out their North Carolina careers.

"I've told our guys if you want to leave, let us know and we'll try to help you," Brown said. "I've also told them if they want to leave and they're leaving for the right reasons and they're practicing really hard to help us win this game, I don't mind if they go in the portal and stay for the bowl game because they're leaving because they want more playing time, and if they're doing everything right, I got it. You helped us get to this situation, I'd like for you to be able to finish it."