"Our hearts and prayers are with Carl's family as they deal with this tragedy," said UNC coach John Bunting in a statement released by the university. "It's a senseless end to a young man's life, and I can't begin to think of the pain his family is going through at this time.
We will be there for the family in whatever way we can. We will be sure to have counselors available for our players and they also feel this loss."
Smalls played in seven games for the Tar Heels this past fall, registering four tackles. He was suspended for the final two games of the season.
A native of Charleston, S.C., Smalls spent one year at South Carolina before transferring to UNC.