The North Carolina Tar Heels have the College Football Playoff firmly in their crosshairs. With the ACC a little more open than previous years, UNC can make a serious push to a conference title and Playoff berth.

They haven’t made the playoff before, but if quarterback Sam Howell is on and shows continued improvement, they could be well on their way. However, there is another player who just transferred in that is a bigger key.

CBS Sports’ Ben Kercheval made the case for former Tennessee running back Ty Chandler as the biggest key for UNC’s Playoff hopes.

“A former top-100 recruit, Chandler gives North Carolina a veteran back with four years of production under his belt,” Kercheval wrote.“He was Tennessee’s primary back in 2018 and 2019 and a sound second option to Eric Gray last year. In all, Chandler amassed over 2,000 career yards and 13 touchdowns in four years with the Vols. With a veteran O-line, a top-tier quarterback and a competent coaching staff, Chandler can help the Tar Heels at least be a playoff contender come November.”

Chandler played four seasons at Tennessee, splitting time with Eric Gray. But he was highly productive whenever he touched the ball.

Last season, Chandler had 100 carries for 456 yards, four touchdowns, 4.6 yards per carry, 16 catches and 111 receiving yards. In his college career, Chandler has 421 carries for 2,046 yards, 13 touchdowns, 4.9 yards per carry, 58 catches, 465 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.

During a recent episode of 247Sports’ Late Kick with Josh Pate, the college football expert described what makes Chandler such a good fit in North Carolina’s offense. He credits Tar Heels offensive coordinator Phil Longo as the reason that Chandler will be a stud next season.

“We talked a lot about Eric Gray transferring from Tennessee to Oklahoma,” Pate said. “Ty Chandler also transferred out. But he’s not going west, he’s headed east … and he’s going to North Carolina. I had a good old-fashioned well-placed source reach out the other day and tell me, out of all these transfers that have happened so far, Ty Chandler to North Carolina may be one of the most underrated perfect fits of any kid that’s moved anywhere this cycle so far. Ty Chandler is looked at as a perfect puzzle piece for Phil Longo’s offense. Fits right in, is the absolute mold for what they want in a tailback there. If you watch, whether it be Clyde Edwards-Helaire in 2019 or Najee Harris in 2020 — now, these are stud running backs, obviously, but I’m asking you, think about the skillset — what can they do? They can pick up tough yards between the tackles if you need ‘em to, but they’re also excellent swing options in the receiving game out of the backfield. You don’t give up one to get the other.

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“Ty Chandler in the proper offense — and I would not ever mistake what he was playing in at Tennessee as the ‘proper offense’ — Ty Chandler, in the proper offense can be not only a difference-maker, but he can be one of those guys that makes you turn on the TV Saturday about Week 4 and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know Ty Chandler was that good,’ and, ‘Wow, North Carolina looks like a real threat.’ Kind of goes hand in hand there.”

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