Mack Brown wrangled his first group of future Tar Heels today, as the Heels ended up signing 17 players in the 2019 class. Consider: at its low point just three weeks ago, Carolina’s class ranked 83rd overall with 6 commits, good for dead last in the ACC.
They’re now up to 35th with 17 signees, another to come tomorrow, and a commitment from 4-star WR Khafre Brown, who is waiting until February to sign.
Flip, Flip, Boom
Carolina’s staff hit it out of the park in a very short time, most notably by getting flips from rivals.
The headliner was the afternoon announcement from 4-star QB Sam Howell, the crown jewel of the class. Howell was long committed to Florida State, but withdrew his commitment and decided to stay in his home state to play for the Tar Heels. He’s the #3 quarterback in the nation, and #2 player overall in the state.
In addition, the Heels flipped Charlotte offensive tackle Triston Miller from rival N.C. State. He’s what you’d call a “high 3-star” (I hate the star system, so on a more granular level, the #15 overall player in N.C. and the #34 OT.) In 247’s own rankings, he’s the 209th-ranked player and the 22nd-ranked OT, so his commitment is—both literally and figuratively—huge.
There are more!
- WR Emery Simmons, the nation’s 67th-ranked wideout, was committed to Indiana, then UNC, then Penn State, but signed with the good guys.
- S/LB Khadry Jackson withdrew his commitment to Pitt and committed to Carolina last week; he’ll sign tomorrow (InsideCarolina reports that he’s official as of 3:30 on Wednesday, not Thursday as had been planned).
- DE Kristian Varner was a longtime Louisville commit, but reopened his recruitment after Bobby Petrino’s ouster and ended up signing with Carolina.
- OT Wyatt Tunall, long an App State commitment despite overtures from South Carolina and N.C. State, decided Carolina was good enough reason to change destinations late in the game.
Signed and Sealed
Carolina’s staff did a TON of heavy lifting in 23 days after Brown’s hire, and have the bones of a perfectly good recruiting class to show for it. Here are the guys about whom they don’t have to worry (with national position ranks per 247):
QB: Sam Howell (#3)
RB: Josh Henderson (#37)
WR: Emery Simmons (#67), Welton Spottsville (#104), Justin Olson (#145)
TE: Kamari Morales (#39)
OL: Triston Miller (#34), Asim Richards (#74), Wyatt Tunall (#143)
DE: Kevin Hester (#64), Tomari Fox (#77), Kristian Varner (#97)
S: Giovanni Biggers (#56)
CB: Storm Duck (#119), Obi Egbuna (#214)
Special Teams: P Ben Kiernan (#11), LS Drew Little (#7)
Committed, but Not Signed
As of this posting, 4-star receiver (#33 at his position) Khafre Brown has been reported to be waiting until February to sign, which is a blow to the top-end talent in the class. With his brother, Dyami, already on campus, he should still eventually sign with the good guys. His social media seems to contradict this, though, as he has now announced that he will be signing tomorrow night. This would be huge for UNC’s standing after the dust has settled on the early signing period.
3-star safety/linebacker Khadry Jackson (#67 S), mentioned in the ‘flips’ section, is scheduled to sign tomorrow with his teammates at a school function. He is, as mentioned before, listed on 247Sports as having signed already... Basically, recruiting is weird and unpredictable and nobody knows what’s really happening. Regardless, he may as well be signed.
Carolina’s recruiting class began the day somewhere in the 50’s in the overall class rankings. As of right now, it is up to #35. The Howell commitment boosted the Heels over four ACC rivals. Currently, the rest of the league shakes out as follows:
- Clemson- 6th
- Florida State- 11th
- N.C. State- 25th
- Virginia Tech- 29th
- North Carolina- 35th
- Miami- 36th
- Virginia- 38th
- Duke- 40th
- Pitt- 44th
- Wake Forest- 46th
- Georgia Tech- 50th
- Boston College- 53rd
- Syracuse- 57th
- Louisville- 127th (!!!)
Brown was quoted today saying he wanted to add “another half dozen” guys in February. With a chance to take a breath and a full staff in place, the board for fulfilling those spots should be EXTREMELY fluid.
Florida linebacker Octavius Brothers is a name to watch here— he has been getting a lot of attention from Carolina recently.
Two five-star recruits who at least serve as people of interest and merit watching are West Virginia OT Darnell Wright, who played high school ball with current Carolina OL Billy Ross, and Charlotte ATH Quavaris Crouch, who almost certainly will not be attending UNC, but would look REALLY good as an immediate starter at a barren outside linebacker position.
An educated guess at the remaining board would indicate a focus on linebackers— or at least guys the staff projects as linebackers, particularly ones with pass-rush ability. They probably need 2-3. A run-stuffing nose tackle needs to be high on the list as well. The remaining 2-3 spots will likely be late bloomers, projects, or, given the staff’s current M.O., more flips.