However, this is far from a killing blow for the Tar Heels -- or for Tate, who should still be a good NFL player assuming he can recover from the ACL and MCL tears in his right knee.
UNC loses one of its "it factors" with the loss of Tate -- and a huge one, no doubt. The Tar Heels losing Tate is a lot like the Carolina Panthers losing Steve Smith. But Carolina went 2-0 without Smith this season (and now is only 2-2 with him). And UNC beat Notre Dame Saturday in a thriller, despite not having Tate for most of the game.
The Tar Heels have already shown surprising resilience in overcoming the injury to QB T.J. Yates. Cam Sexton has been so good for UNC since then that Yates isn't a sure thing to move back into the lineup when he is ready -- he has a broken bone in his ankle and could conceivably be back in 2-4 more weeks.
With Hakeem Nicks and Brooks Foster, the Tar Heels are still well-set at WR. They are fortunate that is one of their deepest positions. They won't find anyone else in a baby-blue uniform who can return like Tate -- he's got a rare gift for that -- but this isn't the sort of injury that is suddenly going to mean the Tar Heels go into a season-ending tailspin. It just means they'll need to work a little harder.