Drake Maye Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be without their starting quarterback and 2022 ACC Player of the Year Drake Maye when they take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on December 27.

Maye, a projected top-five pick in next April’s NFL Draft, opted out of the bowl game on Monday, choosing instead to focus on draft preparation.

He posted a lengthy statement to his X account Monday evening.

In his statement, Maye thanked his friends and family, God, Mack Brown, other North Carolina coaches, and the fans.

Despite being primarily a backup in 2021, Maye’s three seasons in Chapel Hill will go down in the history books. He ranks fifth all-time in UNC starting quarterbacks with 8,018 passing yards, including 4,321 in 2022, making him the first Tar Heel quarterback to ever pass for more than 4,000 yards in a single season.

Maye is fourth in school history in passing touchdowns with 63 and tied Sam Howell’s single-season record in 2022 when he threw 38. Had he gotten starting reps all three years, Maye would almost certainly be no lower than the second-highest all-time behind just Howell’s 92.

Top players passing on bowl games to focus on the NFL Draft has become a trend the past few years, and his year is no different, as Maye joins USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams and Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman have both announced their decisions to forego their team’s bowl games in the past week.

[Drake Maye]