Six months ago, North Carolina redshirt freshman quarterback Drake Maye wasn't sure if he'd win the starting job at the school. Since then, he has emerged as a projected top NFL draft pick for 2024 and the unwitting face of the free market that has emerged in college football.

In an interview with ESPN on Thursday, Maye reflected on the past few weeks, which included a social media post declaring he was staying at UNC as a way to combat rumors of him entering the transfer portal. Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi stoked the flames by saying this week that two schools offered Maye $5 million to transfer.

"Those rumors weren't really reality," he told ESPN. He added: "Pitt's coach ended up putting that out there. I don't know what that was about. You have to enter the transfer portal to talk to these schools and hear these offers. For me, I think college football is going to turn into a mess. They're going to have to do something. There was nothing to me or my family directly offered from any of these other schools. Nothing was said or offered to the Mayes."

Maye threw for 4,115 yards and 35 touchdowns this year, leading UNC (9-4) to an ACC title game appearance and Holiday Bowl bid.

In the wake of that breakout season, both UNC coach Mack Brown ("a whole lot of money") and Narduzzi indicated publicly that Maye had big-money offers from other schools. No one has named the schools, but Brown insinuated they were the school's that typically appear in the recruiting rankings.

Maye agreed to an NIL deal with UNC's Heels4Life program and denies that he and his family got any offers directly from other schools.

Maye added that he heard of outside interest only "through the grapevine." He said: "Some people were texting my high school coach about it. That's mainly what happened, people reached out to some of my representatives and NIL media people."

Maye's family has roots burrowed deep into the UNC campus. Both his parents graduated from there and his brother, Luke, hit one of the most famous shots in UNC basketball history in 2017. Drake Maye rooms with another brother, Beau, who is a UNC basketball walk-on.