Conner Harrell excited for QB1 opportunity in Duke’s Mayo Bowl

If he weren’t a top prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft, there’s a good chance Drake Maye would be quarterback UNC in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 27.

With Maye being arguably the 2024 NFL Draft’s top quarterback prospect and Carolina’s bowl game not having major implications, he decided to opt out and instead, make a decision best for his future.

It would be great to see Maye light up the field one last time, but I completely understand his decision.

Maye’s decision, however, opens up the door for yet another talented quarterback to show Tar Heel Nation his skillset against West Virginia.

That young man is none other than Conner Harrell, a redshirt freshman from Alabaster, Ala. whose 2023 highlight play was a 61-yard touchdown run against Campbell.

Harrell actually spoke to the media on Thursday, Dec. 14, addressing his sudden rise to QB1 status:

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity and blessed to be in this position,” Harrell told the media. “I’m just taking advantage of it (being QB1) every day in every practice. Drake (Maye) left, now it’s my turn to be loud and be that leader. You always have to be prepared, no matter what, because my number could’ve been called at any second in the season. I take that preparation that I’ve being doing all year and now multiply, add onto it so it’s a smooth transition.”

Harrell played in four games this year, with his most extensive action being in relief of Maye against Campbell. He finished the 59-7 Carolina victory with 132 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns.

Harrell was also quite the football player at Thompson High School, throwing for 84 touchdowns, nearly 6,500 career yards and leading his team to two state championships.

It still remains to be seen whether Harrell or Texas A&M transfer Max Johnson will be QB1 next year, but a strong performance from Harrell in two weeks could give him the early leg up.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire