College Football

Could UNC football see an opt-out in its bowl game this year?

Josh Downs lands in very early 2023 NFL mock draft

The North Carolina Tar Heels have three games left this season to try and reach 10 wins for the first time since 2015 and the fourth time since 1996.

With a date looming against N.C. State on Friday, the focus for the Tar Heels is there as they hope to end the regular season strong. After that, they have Clemson in the ACC Championship Game and then the bowl game in December.

Looking at that bowl game, the Tar Heels should be close to full strength with potentially a few opt-outs. And while there are still a few weeks away from that, 247Sports is making a prediction for which Tar Heel could opt out.

Brad Crawford wrote on bowl opt-outs and listed Josh Downs as a candidate:

Tar Heels wideout Josh Downs was named a Biletnikoff semifinalist this week as one of the nation’s top pass-catchers. It’s hard to imagine he’ll play for the Tar Heels again after next week’s ACC Championship appearance against Clemson. Downs has recorded a team-high 878 receiving yards and leads the ACC in receptions with 77, touchdowns with 11 and receiving yards per game at 97.6 despite missing early-season games against Georgia State and Appalachian State. His 11 touchdowns and 8.6 receptions per game rank second nationally among Power Five receivers, while his 97.6 yards per game rank third. Downs has battled through injuries this season, so getting healthy before the NFL Combine seems ideal.

Of course, this is just a prediction and nothing is set in stone. With Downs likely leaving for the NFL after this season, it does make sense for him to sit out.

He’s projected as a second-round pick in most mocks as of right now. He’s also been dealing with a leg injury and risking further damage could hurt him ahead of the scouting combine.

It should be something to monitor moving forward after these next two games.

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