The University of North Carolina football team’s offense grabbed national attention last year – mainly thanks to talented quarterback Drake Maye and his trusted wide receiver duo of Josh Downs and Antoine Green.
The Heels finished their season ranked Top 20 in the FBS in several categories – sixth in passing yards (4,330), 11th in passing yards/game (309.3), 12th in total yards (6,479) and 19th in total yards/game (462.8)
Defense, unfortunately, was the polar opposite.
Carolina allowed 5,697 yards across 13 games, the seventh-worst mark in the FBS. Its 438.2 yards allowed per game was slightly better, but it still ranked 17th-worst.
To help shore up their defense, the Heels snagged a linebacker through the transfer portal, graduate transfer Amari Gainer from Florida State.
Gainer, who chose Carolina over the likes of national powers Alabama, Ohio State, 2021 CFP semifinalist Cincinnati and Big 12 school West Virginia, is a player UNC defensive coordinator Gene Chizik is pretty excited about.
“He’s very conscientious as a football player,” Chizik said TarHeelIllustrated’s Andrew Jones. “He loves the game, he’s a violent player, he plays really hard. It really is important for him to learn what’s going on. So, he never takes a rep off, it doesn’t matter if he’s in there or not. When you see him with me, even when he’s not in, we’re talking things through every single rep.”
Gainer is also excited about joining Carolina, calling it the perfect spot to prepare himself for the next level.
“When it comes down to it, it’s about going to the next level,” Gainer said. according to Jones. “As far as connections and relationships, it was hard, but life’s hard. Making that jump, making that decision was a risk betting on myself. Going back to my natural position at outside linebacker kind of played a pivotal role into me being here.”
Despite limited action last year, with just 17 tackles and a sack across seven games, Gainer registered 210 tackles across 46 games at Florida State. He was the Seminoles’ career-leading tackler among members on last year’s squad.
According to Jones, Gainer will slot in at the jack linebacker slot (outside linebacker). He’ll join a linebacking corps with 100-tackle players Cedric Gray and Power Echols, giving Carolina what should be one of the most vaunted units in college football.
Even though the Heels only have him for one year, Gainer should get fans excited and give them plenty of hope in improving a bottom-ranked defense.
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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire