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Former UNC football commit named a steal of NFL Draft

Since we entered the 2000’s, UNC has largely been dominated by rival NC State in football.

The Wolfpack have beaten the Tar Heels 15 times since 2000, including each of the last three seasons. North Carolina should’ve won in 2021, but endured yet another defensive letdown.

One NC State player who’s dominated UNC, in particular, is linebacker Payton Wilson. The Hillsborough, N.C. native totaled 402 tackles across his 5-year career in Raleigh, which included three victories in five tries against the Tar Heels.

Wilson was actually committed to UNC, but de-committed to don Wolfpack red, citing NC State cares more about football.

Wilson’s collegiate career was good enough to catch the eyes of NFL teams, as the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him 98th overall (third round) in last week’s NFL Draft.

With the fact Wilson has first round-level talent, he was named one of USA Today’s top NFL Draft steals.

“There’s no way to game out the injury factors that seemingly sunk Wilson’s stock,” Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz wrote. “Despite following up his prolific, Bednarik Award-winning performance last fall with a stellar athletic showcase at the combine, the 6-4, 233-pounder tumbled all the way to the end of the third round. His litany of red flags were mostly widely known after his time at North Carolina State – the Fayetteville Observer and the USA TODAY Network reported last January he had already underwent 10 surgeries – but reports emerged during the draft that he no longer has an interior cruciate ligament in his right knee.”

Imagine how much better the Tar Heels’ defense would’ve been with Wilson back there. North Carolina enjoyed the likes of Cedric Gray, Amari Gainer, Myles Murphy and Tomari Fox over the past couple seasons, but a player of Wilson’s talent is strong enough to make an entire unit better.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire