"We are thrilled Chris has decided to join our football program," said Bunting. "He has great potential as a quarterback, has great leadership skills and is an excellent student and person. Our offensive staff has had a chance to evaluate him on tape and Coach (Gary) Tranquill is excited about Chris' future as a Tar Heel. Chris will have an opportunity to learn our offensive system during the upcoming season, then compete for playing time in 2002."
Stephens, the son of Florida offensive line coach Jimmy Ray Stephens, redshirted in 1999 and played one snap last season against Kentucky. He was named to the 2000 Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll.
Stephens was a highly recruited quarterback out of Bucholz High School in Gainesville, Fla., where he threw for 2,012 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He was named to the National Blue Chips All-America Team, which ranked him among the nation's top six dropback quarterbacks, and was named to the National Recruiting Advisors All-America Team. He also was named a PrepStar All-America and received honorable-mention All-America honors from USA Today.
He completed his high school career with 4,636 passing yards and 48 touchdowns, breaking high school records held by former Gator quarterback Doug Johnson. He was a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Math National Honor Society. He was coached by Jay Godwin.
Stephens, by NCAA rule, must sit out the 2001 season as a transfer student, then will have two years of eligibility remaining at North Carolina.