North Carolina is ranked in ESPN’s way-too-early rankings for the 2023 season.

In the rankings, North Carolina earned a spot as the No. 21 ranked team heading into 2023. North Carolina’s success in 2022 contributed to the positive outlook for next season. The Tar Heels finished 2022 with a 9-5 record and an appearance in the ACC Championship Game.

To end the season, North Carolina suffered 4 consecutive loss to Georgia Tech, NC State, Clemson, and Oregon. The string of losses at the end of the season took away from North Carolina’s 9-1 start to the season. North Carolina’s last win came against Wake Forest on Nov. 12.

Even with the struggles late in the season, North Carolina managed to win the most games in a season since 2015. North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in college football and he will return for next season.

ESPN college football writer Mark Schlabach explained why he placed North Carolina in the top 25:

“Quarterback Drake Maye, a leading Heisman Trophy candidate in 2023, is a big reason the Tar Heels are here. He passed for 4,321 yards with 38 touchdowns and led the team in rushing with 698 yards while scoring seven touchdowns. Coach Mack Brown has to find Maye some help. Downs and Green, who were Maye’s favorite targets, are departing; McCollum and Walker led Georgia Tech and Kent State, respectively, in receiving in 2022.”

North Carolina will look to have another successful season in 2023.