Why are Corey Gaynor, Kobe Paysour and Gio Biggers so crucial to UNC football’s success?

The UNC football team is entering its second week of Fall camp, putting it one week closer to its Saturday, Sept. 2 season-opener against the University of South Carolina in Bank of America Stadium.

Players show coaches why they are deserving of starting spots, while others might be fighting just to make the roster. We know a couple of offseason storylines already – Drake Maye is the best quarterback in the country and should be a Top-5 pick in next year’s NFL Draft, Bryson Nesbit and Kamari Morales return one of the country’s top tight end duos, Cedric Gray is one of the most talented linebackers in the game and there are sky-high expectations for the team.

Let’s take a look, though, at some under-the-radar guys who are going to be key parts of UNC this Fall.

Corey Gaynor, who will turn 25 next week, is playing in his seventh college football season because of past injuries and his COVID year. He’ll be entering his second campaign in Chapel Hill after spending his first five years at University of Miami (Fla.).

Gaynor started all 14 games at center last year, earning Honorable Mention All-ACC and team captain honors. He played 1,050 snaps and allowed just two sacks.

Gaynor told TarHeelIllustrated why he chooses to still play college football, even at his older age:

“A lot of people think different reasons why you play football and you come back when you’re as old as I am, (but) I want to pass on my knowledge and make sure that my teammates – my younger guys – are getting every resource possible out of me,” Gaynor said in an interview with TarHeelIllustrated’s Andrew Jones.

It’s almost a given that wide receiver Kobe Paysour will be leaned on heavily this year for offensive production, as the Heels lost Josh Downs and Antoine Green to the NFL Draft. Paysour started 4/12 games last season, tying for fourth on UNC in receptions (29) and finishing sixth in receiving yards (324), while adding four touchdowns.

Paysour will likely be Carolina’s number three wideout, as head coach Mack Brown brought in Kent State’s Devontez Walker (58 receptions, 921 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns) and Georgia Tech’s Nate McCollum (60 receptions, 655 receiving yards, three touchdowns) from the transfer portal.

Hear what Paysour had to say about competing for playing time with his new teammates:

“I seen it as a competitive thing, a competitive spirit,” Paysour told TarHeelIllustrated. “Just like any offensive coach, they’re going to try to get somebody that’s better than you. You feel me? They’re going to try to recruit somebody that’s better than you. So, I just see it as a competitive spirit. I’m always going hard every day.”

Giovanni “Gio” Biggers started all 14 games at defensive back for the Heels last year. He was one of the unit’s more productive players, registering 69 tackles (one for loss), two pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Biggers’ most productive game came in the 63-61 thriller over App State, as he recorded 10 tackles.

Biggers goes by Gio to everyone expect for his loved ones, who call him Giovanni.

“Miss Sally, my mom and my girlfriend call me Giovanni,” Biggers told TarHeelIllustrated.”

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire