High School Sports

Why Drake Maye chose Alabama over UNC: The 2019 preseason All-Observer football team

Myers Park QB Drake Maye talks Alabama over UNC, Clemson

Myers Park QB Drake Maye, a top 60 national recruit in the class of 2021, talks about why he picked Alabama over UNC and Clemson and about the upcoming season. Myers Park will try to reach its first state final since 1957.
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Myers Park QB Drake Maye, a top 60 national recruit in the class of 2021, talks about why he picked Alabama over UNC and Clemson and about the upcoming season. Myers Park will try to reach its first state final since 1957.

In the spring, Myers Park High quarterback Drake Maye surprised a lot of people when he told the Charlotte Observer that committing to North Carolina was not a lock.

At the time, the 247 Sports’ “Crystal Ball” had him pegged to go to Chapel Hill, where his father, Mark, played quarterback, and his brother, Luke, won a national championship on coach Roy Williams’ men’s basketball team.

Asked if UNC was in the lead, Maye said: “Carolina is in there with everyone else.”

Two weeks ago, Maye — the Observer’s preseason offensive high school football player of the year — chose Alabama over Clemson, North Carolina and Tennessee.

“Coach [Mack] Brown [of UNC], he’s been great,” Maye said this week. “I love Carolina. I’ve always loved them. ... I loved Clemson a lot. Tennessee was in there, and Alabama. It was tough. I called Coach Brown [to tell him he was playing for the Crimson Tide], and it went well. Coach Brown was great.”

247 Sports ranks Maye as the nation’s No. 51 overall prospect in the Class of 2021 and the No. 5 pro-style quarterback nationally in his class.

Maye said Alabama coach Nick Saban made it clear that he was wanted in Tuscaloosa.

“I’m sitting there in Coach Saban’s office,” Maye said, “and he’s telling [me] that I’m his guy in the 2021 class. ... It’s hard to say no to.”

Maye was 6-3 and 190 pounds last season when he threw for 3,201 yards and 36 touchdowns. That was the most yards from a Mecklenburg County sophomore quarterback since Independence High’s Chris Leak threw for 4,544 yards 19 years ago. Leak went onto become a national high school player of the year and was named MVP of Florida’s 41-14 upset of top-ranked Ohio State in the 2007 national championship game.

Maye hopes to follow a similar path.

After an offseason of serious dedication in the weight room, Maye is 6-5 and 210 now. His confidence is up. His arm strength is up.

“To give you a baseball analogy,” Myers Park coach Scott Chadwick said, “I think there were a couple times last year where he really had to rear back to dial in his 90 mile-per-hour fastball, and now that’s his normal. He’s worked hard in the weight room, and it’s led to him being stronger. That shows up in his arm strength — and his confidence.”

This season, Maye will direct at Myers Park team that’s nationally ranked in many preseason polls and will feature two wide receivers who have committed to Power 5 schools. Senior Muhsin Muhammad (Texas A&M) is ranked as the nation’s No. 23 wide receiver by 247 Sports. Porter Rooks (NC State) is No. 26.

Myers Park was 13-2 last season and lost to Vance in the N.C. 4AA semifinals. The Mustangs begin the 2019 season on Aug. 23 at home against Olympic.

“It’s going to be fun,” Maye said. “We’ve got some great guys, got a great team. We’re going to be fun to watch. Our defense is going to be really good. ... We’ll be solid all around. We’ll be a tough team to beat.”

Myers Park has never won a N.C. High School Athletic Association state championship in football and hasn’t been to the final since 1957.

Maye knows how much it would mean to bring home a title in 2019.

“It would mean the world,” he said. “We’ve got the best fan base in the state. We’ve been really close, and I think this is the year to do it.”

2019 Preseason All-Observer Football Team

Myers Park High's Drake Maye, the brother of UNC All-American Luke Maye, recently got a football offer from Alabama. He is also a Division I basketball recruit. Recorded on Tuesday, April 2, 2019.


QB: Drake Maye, Myers Park, 6-5, 210, Jr.

RB: Will Shipley, Weddington, 5-11, 205, Jr.

RB: Tyrese Blake, NW Cabarrus, 5-9, 190, Sr.

WR: Porter Rooks, Myers Park, 6-1, 190, Sr.

WR: Muhsin Muhammad, Myers Park, 6-0, 185, Sr.

WR: Kobe Paysour, Kings Mountain, 6-1, 180, Jr.

OL: Malik McGowan, Charlotte Catholic, 6-4, 340, Sr.

OL: Arabee Muslim, Mallard Creek, 6-3, 295, Sr.

OL: Anthony Carter, Butler, 6-5, 305, Sr.

OL: Michael Gonzalez, Sun Valley, 6-5, 270, Sr.

OL: Phifer Griffin, Union Academy, 6-5, 295, Sr.

SPEC: JB Awolowo, Charlotte Christian, 5-7, 167, Sr.

ATH: Caleb Hood, Richmond Senior, 6-2, 205, Jr.

K/P: Holt Cloninger, Gastonia Forestview, 5-10, 185, Sr.

Preseason offensive player of year: Maye, Myers Park


Vance High sophomore linebacker Power Echols talks about being a highly rated recruit and the recruitment process.

DL: Jacolbe Cowan, Providence Day, 6-5, 275, Sr.

DL: Stephen Sings, Vance, 6-5, 230, Sr.

DL: Kedrick Bingley-Jones, Providence Day, 6-5, 270, Sr.

DL: JT Whitmore, Mallard Creek, 6-3, 230, Sr.

LB: Power Echols, Vance, 6-2, 215, Sr.

LB: Trent Simpson, Mallard Creek, 6-3, 225, Sr.

LB: Jack Hollifield, Shelby, 6-4, 235, Jr.

DB: Cameron Roseman-Sinclair, Myers Park, 6-0, 205, Sr.

DB: Anthony Jackson, Rock Hill, 6-1, 170, Sr.

DB: Jaidyn Davis, Mallard Creek, 6-3, 195, Sr.

DB: Marqui Lowery, Vance, 6-1, 180, Sr.

Preseason defensive player of the year: Echols, Vance