The day I committed to the University of North Carolina was the greatest decision of my life. When I signed on to be a Tar Heel I did not know how much that decision would impact my life. After five years with this football family, I understand what it truly means to be a Tar Heel. Football players and staff that have the great pleasure to play and work in Kenan Stadium know how special it is every Saturday to suit up in front of the Tar Heel faithful. We play for more than our families when we step on that field. We play for Chapel Hill, the community that supports us, and the whole state with the interlocking NC brand on our helmets. We play for the state of North Carolina.
Over the last five years my teammates, coaches, and every member of the staff that works in the building, have dealt with challenges that most college students and athletes never imagine happening to their program. We went through three head coaches in five years. We went through a bowl ban after we won the Atlantic Coast Conference coastal division. We lost scholarships in a time of need. We dealt with constant media attention for the wrong reasons. We could have given up, and our fans could have given up, but that term is not in a Tar Heel's vocabulary. We battled through it all and it made us stronger.
Being a student athlete during the time of all these outside challenges made me a stronger person. It made our whole locker room men and taught us core values that we will use the rest of our lives. Those core values had nothing to do with how many touchdowns I threw, how many yards passing that I ended my career with, and no winning record can match the amount of determination and courage that it took for our team to stand up and work as one to reach our goals. We as a team never wavered, or retreated in our understanding of how Tar Heels faced challenges and that showed our valor every Saturday we stepped on that field.
When I was growing up my dream was to be a starting quarterback in college football. It was the only thing that I thought about when I played little league football through when I was playing high school football for my father at West Springfield High School in Springfield, Virginia. I wanted to be the leader and the man everyone looked to for how to do things and how to handle every situation on and off the field. Stepping in the huddle for the first time and hearing my name called out as the starting quarterback for the University of North Carolina was the best feeling I have ever felt in my life thus far.
Being the starting quarterback for the last three years has truly been an honor and a privilege. It wasn't just about the Saturdays running out of the Tar Pit. It was being a student athlete and the leader at the greatest school in the country. I never took that lightly when I played. I always gave it my all when I jogged on the field. I competed every play like it was my last because I didn't want my dream to end. I didn't want to let down the men and women that worked their hardest to make sure that I had the best opportunity to succeed on and off the field. That is how our whole team felt every single day we stepped on campus.
When I got hurt and realized I had thrown my last pass as a Tar Heel, it was the worst feeling that I have ever felt, not because my career as a Tar Heel on the football field was over, but because I didn't want my dream to end. Everything that happened was just so sudden that I never thought it would come to an end. My whole career I never looked in the future and never tried to predict what would happen next because every day that I could call myself the leader and quarterback of this great University were the best days of my life.
I always felt when I left a place behind I wanted to be remembered for my character, honor, and respect of others that were around me. I wanted to leave a legacy of hard work and "never retreat, never surrender" mentality no matter what the obstacle was. I can honestly say that my Senior class, my teammates that are still playing, the coaches, the support staff that works harder than anyone will ever know, and the whole Carolina Football Family achieved that. We conquered and defeated every challenge that was thrown our way. We did it as one unit, we did it to prove to each other that being a Tar Heel meant you face challenges and adversity with honor. We showed that as a program we could push forward and continue the greatness that was started by our alumni at this University.
I would personally like to thank every single person for the greatest five years of my life. I would like to thank the fans that did not waver during tough times, and that always made every Saturday special, home or away. I would like to thank the coaches who trusted and believed in my abilities and my skill set to lead the Tar Heels on the field. I would like to thank everyone who gave me support throughout my surgeries. I can't tell you enough how that support felt during a tough time in my life. I would like to thank every single person in the great state of North Carolina for letting me live my dream. It has truly been an honor to be your quarterback. I will always call Chapel Hill my home. I will always be proud to understand what the true meaning of being a Tar Heel alum is all about. I will always call myself a Tar Heel!