You may recall there was a flurry of articles about the number of commitments UNC had not lining up with the number of scholarships available from graduating seniors. The N&O published the original article and football blogs like The Wizard of Odds basically accused Butch Davis of oversigning players and screwing kids without any evidence it was actually happening. Following signing day, Davis addressed the issue with ACC Now and it turns out everything is under control.
"We have a plan for every kid that falls into that category ... whether it's a grayshirt opportunity because of an injury, whether it's an academic siutation where someone may have to go to a postgraduate [school], whether it's somebody that they need some age, some maturity ... there's a variety of different guys that this fits."
Davis declined to say which signees will not be on the roster next season, but it sounds as if each incoming player agreed to the plan.
"Here's the secret that goes into it: you have to be honest with the player, the high school coach, the parents, and say, 'This is our plan for your son.'" Davis said. "And surprisingly, as in the case of the University of Miami, when we did these sorts of things, some of the kids that we've signed are full qualifiers.
"They are fully academically eligible to accept a scholarship, they could have gone to any other school that they chose, and be immediately eligible at that school.
"But they said they wanted to come to Carolina, and they were willing to put off that opportunity until later."
Because of the small number of seniors in lthe 2008 outgoing class, a few more current players will have to graduate, go on medical hardship or transfer in order for UNC to bring 25 new ones in (the NCAA allows teams only 85 scholarship players per season).
Here is what's known so far:
• The Tar Heels, who used all 85 scholarships last season, lose 13 true seniors, including Jabir Jones, a walk-on who was put on scholarship, and Richard Quinn, a redshirt junior who said before the season he planned to graduate.
• Junior wide receiver Hakeem Nicks left early for the NFL draft, opening up a 14th slot.
• Quarterback Cameron Sexton, a redshirt junior, will graduate in May and transfer to a Division II school. In addition, redshirt juniors Richie Rich and Kenton Thornton and sophomore B.J. Phillips have decided to graduate.
• Darius Powell and Tavorris Jolly were dismissed from the team this season for violating team rules. Kennedy Tinsley was also suspended, and it's unclear if he will return.
• Reserve offensive linemen Zack Handerson and Morgan Randall will go on medical hardship scholarships next season because of reported shoulder injuries. That means they won't count toward the 85 limit.
That leaves 22 scholarship openings — and perhaps 23, depending on whether Tinsley returns — so far.
I am sure the critics will still take issue with Davis talking about having "a plan" for each player that means some of them will greyshirt or go the prep school route before winding up at UNC. I am sure it will be suggested that Davis is stringing these kids along and plans to cut them off when no one is looking. As was the case with the original hyperventilating that went on over this issue, there is no evidence that is the case. I stated in my original post on this that Davis knew which players would not be coming back despite having eligibility left. It appears a handful of fourth year guys will go ahead and graduate. NCSU's Tom O'Brien has a few players of his own doing this as well. Couple those with some medical hardships, a transfer, a player going to the NFL and some other special situations what you get is UNC within 2-3 slots of being within the limit.
Now, I am not so naive that I think there is not a cutthroat element to this recruiting game but based on what Davis has said here, it looks like he is handling it the right way with the best interest of the players in mind. If not, I am sure it will come out at some point and there will be hell to pay.