North Carolina wide receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams will forgo his senior season and declare for the 2019 NFL draft, he announced in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.
Ratliff-Williams, who was the Tar Heels’ top target at receiver the past two seasons, had another year of eligibility left.
The 6-1, 205-pound junior wide receiver from Matthews led the Tar Heels with 689 receiving yards this past season. He was second on the team in receptions with 42, and also had three total touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing). In his final game at UNC, a 34-28 overtime loss to N.C. State, he had two receptions for 76 yards.
Ratliff-Williams played high school football at Butler High School — just outside of Charlotte —where he was a star quarterback. When he got to UNC, he converted to a wide receiver.
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He made his mark at UNC as a return specialist. He won first team All-ACC honors in 2017 after recording 895 kick return yards and two touchdowns.
He wanted to have a breakout season in 2018, but he and the Tar Heels struggled. UNC finished 2-9 this past season, and coach Larry Fedora was fired after seven seasons. Mack Brown was hired last week to replace him.
“I would like to thank the University of North Carolina, Coach Fedora, and the UNC staff for giving me the opportunity to play the game I love and to help prepare me to play at the next level,” Ratliff-Williams wrote in his message.
Ratliff-Williams was one of Fedora’s biggest defenders as the pressure to fire him started to build among the UNC fan base.
“He’s the reason I came here,” Ratliff-William told The News & Observer in October. “He’s the reason guys are here. You definitely want to play hard for your coach and kind of tune out that noise.”
With the exception of Ratliff-Williams, the Tar Heels should return all of their receivers next year. UNC sophomores Beau Corrales and Dazz Newsome, who finished second and fourth on the team in receiving yards, are both eligible to return next year.
Newsome’s father, Myron Newsome, confirmed his son would return last week.