With the loss of Mitch Trubisky, Elijah Hood, TJ Logan, Ryan Switzer, and Bug Howard from UNC’s offensive weaponry, the loss of one player is too often overlooked: Nick Weiler.
After some early struggles, Weiler grew into a kicker so reliable that you never had to think about the UNC kicking game much, and of course he memorably delivered a win over FSU, tomahawk chopping his way down Doak Campbell stadium afterwards.
It’s easy to forget that for many college football teams – even elite ones – this isn’t always the case, and for an offense in transition for the 2017 season, having a reliable kicker is even more important.
Last night, Noah Ruggles, a 6’3” kicker from Odessa, FL, made clear that the Tar Heels think he might be the guy to step into Weiler’s role. As is increasingly common in recruiting news, we learned of Ruggles’ recruitment through a tweet he sent out. Ruggles is rated as the #5 kicker in the 2017 class.
Kicker recruitment is a bit different than most positions. Some schools recruit with scholarships, and some schools hope to identify kickers from a group of walk-ons, perhaps later awarding a scholarship to a walk-on that emerges.
By offering Ruggles, the Tar Heels are signaling that they’re willing to use a scholarship slot on a kicker they like, and if Ruggles chooses not to accept, it’s a good bet that UNC has a backup offer in mind.
Our Signing Day Tracker is updated below.
UNC Recruiting Status for the 2017 class as of Wednesday, January 25:
Early Enrollees: 7
Committed, but unsigned: 12
Commitments looking shaky: 0 known.
Uncommitted recruits known to be “on the board” for UNC: 4 (up from 3 yesterday)
Current UNC consensus recruiting class ranking: 22.
Tar Heels’ known remaining recruits (signing day is February 1):
Ameer Speed, 6’3”, 195lb CB, Jacksonville, FL: Speed’s choices seem to be down to UNC, Virginia Tech and Oregon, with Georgia as a potential wildcard.
A.J. Davis, 5’11”, 190lb RB, Lakeland, FL: Davis looks to be choosing between UNC and Louisville, where he visited last weekend. This looks to be a Louisville-UNC decision, although a late visit to Oregon could change that.
Dazz Newsome, 5’10”, 165lb CB, Hampton, VA. Newsome reportedly did not visit Virginia Tech this past weekend as planned. Tar Heel fans should take that as a very promising indicator.
Noah Ruggles, 6’3”, 173lb K, Odessa, FL. Full report above.