Two ACC transfers — North Carolina receiver Tez Walker and Florida State defensive lineman Darrell Jackson Jr. — had their waivers for immediate eligibility denied by the NCAA on Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Walker was voted Preseason First-Team All-ACC and named to the Biletnikoff Award watchlist earlier this month.
- Walker was denied as a two-time transfer after spending the past two seasons at Kent State. He originally signed with NC Central but left without playing a game for the program after their 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19. UNC is appealing the decision.
- Jackson, who began his career at Maryland, started all 12 games for Miami in 2022 and was seeking a hardship waiver after returning home to the Tallahassee area to be closer to his ailing mother. Florida State coach Mike Norvell was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
What this means for UNC
There’s no sugarcoating this one: What a tremendous blow to North Carolina, and at about the worst time possible in terms of the calendar. Walker was expected to be UNC’s top receiver this season, a legitimate No. 1 option for star quarterback and potential No. 1 draft pick Drake Maye. The fact that he was voted Preseason All-ACC First-Team without having ever taken a snap in the league speaks to the caliber of player he is. While the Tar Heels have other talented skill players for Maye to throw to — Georgia Tech transfer Nate McCollum, tight end Bryson Nesbit and former top recruit Andre Greene Jr. will all have to step up — there’s no replacing a guy of Walker’s status this close to the start of the season.
So … now we wait. UNC is appealing the decision, with Mack Brown noting after practice Tuesday that Walker has only ever played at one school (Kent State), despite having been enrolled at North Carolina Central during the canceled 2020 pandemic season. But given the NCAA’s track record on these sorts of things, it’s much tougher to envision Walker suiting up for the Tar Heels’ season-opener versus South Carolina on Sept. 2. — Marks
What this means for Florida State
From a roster standpoint, the Seminoles are fortunate they have other quality defensive tackles they can turn to including Brandon Fiske, a 29-game starter at Western Michigan and grad transfer. In addition, Fabien Lovett Sr., Dennis Briggs Jr. and Malcolm Ray all started for the Seminoles last season and have 35 college starts between them. — Navarro
What they’re saying
“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 said in a statement Tuesday. “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. But, after entering the portal and enrolling in classes, the NCAA voted to change the rule on two-time transfers and denied my waiver. We’ve filed an appeal and are waiting on a ruling, but I wanted to make sure everyone knew my story, so they could understand why I made the decision I did and why I feel I should be eligible this season.”
“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. She is my rock, my everything, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her,” Walker said. “I want this to be over. I want to stop feeling like this. I just want to play. I want my grandmother to come and watch me. I want to be a student and an athlete and I hope those in charge give me that opportunity.”
“I know what I came home for,” Jackson told reporters in Tallahassee. “I came home for my mom, so I’m just trying to go through it and be here for my mom. She thinks it’s her fault, but it’s not.”
(Photo of Tez Walker: Dale Zanine / USA Today)