There are two quarterbacks left in North Carolina’s training-camp competition for the starting job.
Redshirt freshman Cade Fortin told the coaching staff on Thursday that he was going to transfer, team spokesman Jeremy Sharpe told The News & Observer in a text message on Friday.
UNC coach Mack Brown said earlier in the week that freshman Sam Howell has been working with the first-team offense but stopped short of naming him the starter for the season-opener against South Carolina on Aug. 31.
Howell and redshirt freshman Jace Ruder are now Brown’s primary options.
Fortin (6-3 and 220 pounds) played in four games in 2018 as a true freshman for the Tar Heels and former coach Larry Fedora and started in two. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 97 yards and ran for 44 yards in a 22-19 loss to Virginia Tech.
He suffered a wrist injury in the close loss to the Hokies in October but was able to come back for the season-finale against N.C. State in November. He showed promise, and some guts, in the 34-28 overtime loss to the Wolfpack. He completed 19 of 40 passes for 276 yards with a touchdown. He also ran seven times for 15 yards and a touchdown against the Wolfpack.
But with Fedora’s exit, after a 2-9 record in 2018, Brown landed Howell as the star of his recruiting class and let the three quarterbacks compete for the starting job in August camp.
The NCAA changed its redshirt rules in 2018. Since Fortin only played in four games, he was able to retain a year of eligibility. He will have to sit out the 2019 season, under NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility at his new school.
Fortin was a four-star recruit out of Suwanee, Ga. in 2018 and one of the top prospects in that state out of North Gwinnett High.
With Fortin’s exit, UNC has two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in Howell and Ruder. Walk-ons Donovan Brewington and Vincent Amendola (from Leesville Road) are the other two quarterbacks on the roster.
Chazz Surratt started seven games at quarterback for UNC in 2017 but was moved to linebacker by Brown’s staff in the spring.