North Carolina quarterback Cameron Sexton called his decision to graduate in May and use his final year of eligibility at a Division II school "bittersweet." The redshirt junior discussed his choice with several reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Q: Can you take us through the how and why you came to this decision?
A: This decision was based over a good little period of time. There was a lot of discussion with my family and past coaches to make sure I made the right one, but we kind of came to the point where I just want to compete and I want to play, first and foremost. I felt like in order for me to do that, in order for me to get the best opportunity to do that, we felt like it was the best thing for me to graduate in May and go play somewhere else next year.
Q; Did the decision to start T.J. Yates for the N.C. State game factor into this decision?
A: To say it didn’t factor in, that wouldn’t be correct. But that was just a small piece of a much bigger puzzle; that wasn’t the deciding factor by any means, no.
Q: Had the coaches told you that you wouldn’t be able to compete for the starting position; did it come down to that?
A: No, it did not come down to that. They said there would be competition for the starting position, but I felt like, based on how things have gone, that maybe it was still best for me to go compete somewhere else.
Q: Do you have any regrets about staying at UNC as long as you did?
A: Absolutely not – no regrets whatsoever.
Q. What was your thought process in hosting a high-profile recruit last weekend, considering you knew you were going to leave?
A: Well, first and foremost, what’s happened to me throughout my career does not reflect my love for the University of North Carolina. I love this place, I love my teammates, and there would be no way that I would do anything to hurt this Univerisity and this football program. I did the best I could in hosting the kids this weekend, and I did the best job I could, and I told them everything that was great about this University and this football program, because I feel like there are a lot of great things that are going on here. Did I agree with every decision that got made in my career? No. But that’s life, that’s the way things go, I understand that. But I would never do anything to hurt Carolina.
Q: How satisfying is it to you that you played such a major role in this team’s success this year?
A: That was great. This year was probably the best year of my life so far, to go out and finally achieve some of the things I set out to achieve, to play well – especially to play well at home a couple of times in front of our fans. All the hard work paid off, and we enjoyed a lot of success together as a team. And that was really great, and this year meant a lot for me, and a lot of those moments I’ll never forget the rest of my life.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory that you’ll take with you?
A: A lot of the memories that are my favorites are the time I spent with my teammates … the football moments, that Miami game, and the Notre Dame game, and the Boston College game, those will be the three games that stand out. The really special moments were the throw to Brooks [Foster] at Miami and the jump into the end zone at Notre Dame. Those are the two moments I’ll never forget.
Q: Is this a bittersweet moment? How do you feel about all of this?
A: I feel great about it, because I’m kind of moving on to a new chapter in my life, but it is bittersweet. I love Carolina, I would love to be here, I really love this place … so it’s absolutely difficult to go. But I know it’s something I have to do, so I know if will be good for me.
Q: What was coach [Butch] Davis' reaction when you told him it was time to move on?
A: He wanted to make sure that I understood that they wanted me to come back, and they wanted me to be here. But he also was very understanding of the situation and understanding of my decision. One thing I was really happy with is how much he wanted to be involved in my next decision, and he made it very clear that he wanted me for the rest of my life to be involved with the University of North Carolina's football program, so I really appreciated that.