UNC quarterback Howell enters NFL draft

The projected first round pick leaves the Tar Heels as their all-time leader in passing yards and total offense

UNC quarterback Sam Howell warms up before Thursday's Duke's Mayo Bowl in Charlotte (PJ Ward-Brown/North State Journal)

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell is forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Howell’s decision was not surprising, but he made it official Saturday with a video posted on UNC football’s official Twitter account. He is considered a potential first-round draft pick.

The junior will leave college as UNC’s most prolific quarterback, with career records in yards passing (10,283) and total offense (11,292).

The 6-foot-1, 220 pounder was a blue-chip recruit out of high school who changed his mind late and signed with the Tar Heels and coach Mack Brown instead of Florida State.

Howell thanked teammates, coaches, Tar Heels fans and God during his goodbye video.

“I’ll forever be grateful for my time here at Carolina and for all the people who made it so special,” Howell said.

Howell leaves after a disappointing season for the Tar Heels, who started the season ranked No. 10 in the AP Top 25 and favored to win the ACC’s Coastal Division, but finished 6-7 with a bowl loss to South Carolina.