UNC addresses backfield void with grad transfer running back

Tennessee running back Ty Chandler stiff arms two Florida defenders during a game this season (Randy Sartin/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, Pool)

The North Carolina football team took a major step toward filling the void left by the departure of 1,000-yard rushers Michael Carter Jr. and Javonte Williams on Tuesday by announcing the addition of graduate transfer running back Ty Chandler.

A 5-foot-11, 205-pound native of Nashville, Tennessee, Chandler spent the first four seasons of his college career at Tennessee, where he ranks fifth all-time on that school’s career list with 3,291 all-purpose yards.

He plans on joining coach Mack Brown’s program for the spring semester, using the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes by the NCAA because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I look forward to the journey that I’m about to go on and friendships that I will make with my new teammates,” Chandler wrote on his Twitter account. “2021 is going to be a special season in Chapel Hill and I can’t wait to get there to begin to work.”

Chandler played in 46 games for the Volunteers, rushing for 2,046 yards on 4.9 yards per carry, leading the team in both 2018 and 2019. He also amassed 465 receiving yards and 780 yards on kickoff returns. A 2019 Doak Walker Award watch list member, he has scored 17 touchdowns, including one on a kickoff return.

His arrival adds a veteran presence to a UNC backfield decimated by the decisions by both Carter and Williams to enter the NFL Draft.

The duo combined for 87% of the Tar Heels’ yardage on the ground this season and produced 28 of the team’s 35 rushing touchdowns.

In what turned out to be their final college game, Carter ran for 308 yards and two touchdowns while Williams added 236 yards and three scores in a win at Miami. The 544 yards gained between them most ever in a game by FBS teammates.