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UNC Coach Mack Brown Makes Prediction For Star QB Sam Howell

UNC quarterback Sam Howell throws a pass.

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 14: Sam Howell #7 of the North Carolina Tar Heels throws a pass during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on November 14, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

North Carolina star quarterback Sam Howell is returning for his junior season in 2021 as one of the top players in all of college football. And according to Tar Heels' head coach Mack Brown, this year will be the last one for Howell in Chapel Hill.

Speaking with SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday, Brown shared the firm belief that his starting QB will be a highly-touted option in the 2022 NFL Draft.

"Sam Howell is the biggest reason we've made the progress we've made in two years," the veteran coach said. "People say, 'do you think he'll come back?' and I really don't. If he has the year he wants... I think he'll be a top-round draft choice and I think he'll leave.

"I just feel like he's already in a position in his mind where if that comes up, he wants to go to the next level."

As a four-star freshman out of Monroe, NC, Howell burst onto the college football scene during his debut season in 2019. Through a full 13 starts for the Heels, the dual-threat option threw for 3,641 yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

This past season, the sophomore QB threw an equally impressive 3,586 yards, 30 touchdowns and and seven interceptions on an improved 68.1 completion percentage -- leading North Carolina to a 2021 Orange Bowl appearance.

Heading into the 2021 season, CBS Sports college football insider Barrett Sallee has Howell as the No. 1 draft-eligible player available for selection in the 2022 draft. NFL insider Gil Brandt also ranked the UNC signal caller as the No. 1 quarterback in next year's draft.

With all this talent and hype, it would be a shock if this wasn't Howell's final season at the college level.