Eligibility Denied for North Carolina WR Tez Walker — What This Now Means for Tar Heels

North Carolina was hit with a significant blow in learning the fate of Tez Walker. The wide receiver not only reacts to the NCAA's ruling, but also Mack Brown shared what happens next for the Tar Heels.

Tez Walker has gone from a prized transfer portal addition for an aspiring Top 25 team to now being deemed ineligible for the 2023 season, as the NCAA denied his immediate eligibility to play on Tuesday for North Carolina.

Not only does this throw a significant wrench in the plans for the former Kent State standout, but it also re-alters the Tar Heels’ offense moving forward, as UNC aims to fight the decision.

Walker Arrived in Chapel Hill as a MAC Leader and Top Transfer Portal Addition

Walker first started out at NC Central but took the “MACtion” seriously during his Golden Flashes days, particularly in his final season with Kent State.

The wideout caught 58 passes for 921 yards and scored 11 touchdowns — the latter stat tying for the conference lead in 2022. He was also seventh nationally in total receiving touchdowns. However, Walker was in the top 10 in another category.

Walker was easily seen as a top transfer portal target and, subsequently, a top addition for the Tar Heels.

UNC’s Reaction Stirs Up All the Emotions

As described by Inside Carolina 247 reporter Adam Smith, the moment involved tears as wide receiver coach Lonnie Galloway described to him and other reporters.

“I knew something was wrong,” Galloway said via Smith of when Walker got the news. “He leaned his head on my shoulder and started crying.”

Walker’s arrival to UNC was perceived as a homecoming for the four-star WR, as he’s a native of nearby Charlotte. Brandon Marcello of 247Sports also called Walker “probably the best wide receiver on the Tar Heels’ roster.”

Furthermore, Walker’s numbers were projected to significantly increase due to who was going to be throwing him the football this fall: Prized returner Drake Maye, considered to be a top-five NFL Draft pick for 2024.

Now, Walker was denied his opportunity to catch passes from Maye and have his North Carolina homecoming.

“You can imagine what that does to a 21/22-year-old kid,” Galloway told reporters.

Walker’s Transfer Intentions Revealed

While North Carolina plans to appeal the decision made by the NCAA, Walker, meanwhile, immediately reacted to the decision via a press release obtained by CFN.

“For some time now, I’ve been working with the administration at the University of North Carolina to be eligible for this season. When I made the decision to transfer from Kent St. back to my home area at UNC, I did so thinking I would be able to play this year,” Walker began. “The way the rules were set up at the time, we knew we’d have to file a waiver as a two-time transfer, and in previous years, those waivers were being granted.”

Walker, then, shared his reasonings for wanting to play for UNC — which involved a prominent family figure in his tree.

“The first, and main, reason I decided to transfer from Kent St. was the stress and anxiety I was feeling being away from home, while my grandmother deals with health issues,” Walker said. “She is my rock, my everything, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. She took care of me when I was younger and being away from her and the rest of my family was very challenging and hard to deal with. It’s meant the world to us to be in the same area, where she’s just a short drive away and I have far more opportunities to be with her.

“This whole experience has been extremely difficult on me and my family. One day, we feel the excitement of being closer to each other. The next day, we’re worried about whether or not I’m going to be able to play,” Walker continued.

Walker later explained how he was originally set to attend East Tennessee State, but a torn ACL ruined that opportunity. But at NC Central, he wasn’t able to play due to COVID-19 canceling their spring and fall seasons.

“So, that is two seasons I missed due to no fault of my own,” the release said.

Walker ended with: “I want this to be over. I want to stop feeling like this. I just want to play. I want my grandmother to come watch me. I want to be a student and an athlete and I hope those in charge give me that opportunity.”

Head coach Mack Brown shared the same sentiment and vowed further action regarding the situation.

“We’re trying to secure his immediate eligibility,” Brown confirmed. “He met the criteria for the transfer to be automatically eligible. On January 9, he enrolled but on January 11, they [the NCAA] changed the rule [for two-time transfers]. The NCAA indicated approval of his waiver at the time but that was before the rule change. Dez has only played football at one school, and should be considered a first-time transfer.”

Who Does UNC/Maye Turn to Now?

Maye is already without Josh Downs and Antoine Green — now with the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions, respectively.

The Heels do have one other portal addition, but this one via the Atlantic Coast Conference in Nate McCollum…who comes over from Georgia Tech. He comes to Chapel Hill after leading the Yellow Jackets at WR in 2022.

But in all likelihood, Brown and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey will need to witness further growth from sophomore Kobe Paysour. He went on to place fifth on the Heels with 29 catches for 324 yards and scored four touchdowns, which tied for third on UNC.

There’s also J.J. Jones returning for his junior season. Jones averaged 18.1 yards per catch to finish behind Green in that category.

But perhaps two four-star additions via the 2023 UNC class steps in early given the wake of the Walker news. North Carolina signed 6’3″ target Chris Culliver of Maiden High and 6’0″ WR Christian Hamilton of Hickory Ridge. Both were top 20 prospects in the state of North Carolina.