As NFL draft decision looms, UNCs Trubisky prepares for first last time

As one of the top-rated quarterbacks in college football, UNCs Mitch Trubisky is not blind to the reality that Fridays game against NC State may be his final one at Kenan Stadium as a member of the Tar Heels

Jasen Vinlove—USA Today Sports
North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) attempts a pass against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium.

CHAPEL HILL — Friday is Senior Day at North Carolina, but for redshirt junior Mitch Trubisky the regular season finale against rival NC State might just be as emotional as it is for any of his 16 graduating teammates. Trubisky has not announced his intentions when it comes to entering the NFL draft and as of Monday, he is not planning to be honored along with the others saying their farewells at Kenan Stadium. But as one of the top-rated quarterbacks in college football, he is not blind to the reality that this may also be his final home game as a member of the Tar Heels. “I’ve waited my time here just to get this opportunity,” Trubisky said Monday. “I’ve waited three years to basically play one year and it’s gone by so fast. This is the first last time I could possibly start in Kenan Stadium. That’s just crazy to think about. There’s not words to describe it.” Trubisky has made the most of his opportunity to run UNC’s high-powered offense after spending his first two seasons as a backup to Marquise Williams. Not only has he thrown for 25 touchdowns and leads the ACC in passing efficiency with a completion percentage of 69.7, but he is on pace to shatter T.J. Yates’ single-season school record of 1,556 passing yards. He has already set UNC marks for most consecutive completions (30) and most consecutive passes without an interception (243). Although he started the season as a relative unknown outside the ACC’s geographic footprint, his stature has quickly grown — to the point that ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has Trubisky listed as the No. 1 quarterback available in the draft. That’s significant since Trubisky, an Ohio native, has made little secret of his desire to play for his hometown Cleveland Browns. And the Browns, who have yet to win a game this season, are almost a lock to have the No. 1 overall draft pick. Trubisky said that he doesn’t pay attention to either the ratings that have him at or near the top of this year’s draft board or the growing speculation that the Browns are as interested in him as he is in them. He did admit that’s it’s getting harder and harder not to hear the rumblings with each passing day. “It’s difficult,” he said. “Very difficult.” One thing that will make the decision a little less difficult, whenever Trubisky finally gets around to making it, is the fact that he’s only one class away from earning his undergraduate degree. As conflicted as he might be about his future with the Tar Heels, the star quarterback said he is determined not to let it be a distraction for either himself or his teammates as UNC prepares for its annual rivalry showdown with NC State. In addition to local bragging rights, UNC still has a mathematical shot at winning a second straight ACC Coastal Division championship and reaching double-digit victories for the second straight year — something that has happened only two other times in school history. “I am thinking about that it is our last game with these seniors who for sure already know” that it’s their last home game, Trubisky said. “I don’t know my decision, but I know I have a bunch of brothers who it will be their last game so we got to make it count for them.” Trubisky isn’t the only UNC junior potentially playing his final game at Kenan on Friday. Running back Elijah Hood and defensive tackle Nazair Jones may also be considering their options at season’s end. Coach Larry Fedora — himself a candidate to leave after the season whose name has been prominently mentioned for several high-profile openings, including LSU — said he that has not been approached by any of his underclassmen about participating in the Senior Day festivities. But Trubisky admitted Monday that the thought has crossed his mind. “I think about it,” he said. “I still don’t know what I am going to do. I’ll make that decision when I get there.”