UNC Football: 2023 Projected Preseason Depth Chart- Defense

8/2/2023
What will the UNC football program’s defensive depth chart look like as the team begins training camp for the upcoming 2023 season?
Heading into the 2023 college football season, there will be a lot of attention focused on the UNC football program’s defensive unit.
North Carolina needs its defense to be better if it hopes to compete for an ACC title and a potential berth into the College Football Playoff. The Tar Heels’ defense does have some talented players, but the overall unit will look different than it did a season ago.
With some new faces heading to Chapel Hill, how does the UNC football program’s defensive depth chart look like heading into the start of training camp? Let’s take a look:
Defensive Line
Nose Guard
Kevin Hester Jr.
Tomari Fox
Travis Shaw
3 Tech
Myles Murphy
Jahvaree Ritzie
Power End
Des Evans
Jahvaree Ritzie
Jacolbe Cowan
Beau Atkinson
Jack
Kaimon Rucker
Amari Gainer
After being one of the worst teams in the country in regard to pressuring the quarterback during the 2022 season, this group will be tasked with re-writing the narrative this season.
The return of Des Evans (who had a season-ending injury) and Tomari Fox (who was suspended by the NCAA) should help improve this unit, as the Tar Heels have some guys who can fill multiple positions along the defensive line.
Expect Florida State transfer Amari Gainer to be utilized at the “Jack” position, as his production, along with veteran Kaimon Rucker, will play a big role in this unit’s overall success.
Linebacker
Cedric Gray
Power Echols
Sebastian Cheeks
Amare Campbell
Cedric Gray is one of the best linebackers in the country, and Power Echols is coming off a very productive season of his own.
Other than Gray and Echols, there are some question marks surrounding this unit.
Cheeks was sidelined due to injury for most of the 2022 season, as the Tar Heels hope he can remain healthy this year. It appears that true freshman Amare Campbell has worked his way up the depth chart, as he could see some extended playing time if he continues to perform in training camp.
Defensive Backs
Cornerbacks
Marcus Allen
Alijah Huzzie
Tayon Holloway
Armani Chatman
Safeties
Gio Biggers
Will Hardy
Don Chapman
Derrik Allen
Antavious Lane
Needless to say, this group looks a lot different than it did a season ago!
Four transfers are expected to play big roles in the Tar Heels secondary, as they’ll be tasked with replacing the players who elected to leave the program. Based on how the unit fared during the 2022 season, it might not be a bad thing to have a new look, as this group may end up being a positive surprise for the UNC football program this season.
Special Teams
Kicker
Ryan Coe
Punter
Ben Kiernan
Long Snapper
Drew Little
Ryan Coe, a transfer from Cincinnati, was brought in to help improve the team’s place-kicking situation. Noah Burnette struggled during the 2022 season, which led to the Tar Heels looking elsewhere for more kicking depth.
No surprise at the punter position, as Ben Kiernan will be back for his fifth season as the team’s starting punter. Drew Little, who earned some preseason recognition, will once again be tasked with handling all snapping duties.

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