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UNC Football: National Signing Day Thread and Live Updates

Let’s sign a 2020 class, why don’t we?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 30 North Carolina at NC State Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

11:55am: A quick look around the ACC, as told by Seinfeld GIFs.


Georgia Tech, on the cusp of its first top 50, nay, 25 class since Reggie Ball actively made Calvin Johnson a human highlight reel:

N.C. State, where it seems players commit just so they can decommit later:

Last and appropriately least, Virginia Tech, because while I don’t love Blacksburg, 14 commits and no 4-stars is a remarkable achievement that can’t be rationally explained.

11:44am: Our pal Jake ran the numbers on initial counters and spring enrollees covering the previous five recruiting classes, because I assume he’s got way too much time on his hands and is better at math than me.

This is a popular question because of the Heels’ THIRTEEN planned spring enrollments, so let’s try to boil this down. 2016: 24 (8); 2017: 20 (8); 2018: 21 (6); 2019: 24 (5); 2020: 26 (13??)

Based on that math, Jake posits that the Heels took 19 initial counters in 2019, when back-counting early enrollees to Larry Fedora’s (obnoxiously) undersigned 2018 class. Add incoming transfers Cam’Ron Kelly, Kyler McMichael, and Bryce Watts, and that number goes to 22. So three of the Heels’ 13 enrollees will be “back counted” (just trust me when I say this is for accounting purposes only) to 2019.

That means that, if everyone signs, the Heels will have 23 initial counters for 2020. The Heels can take as many as 27 players (ignoring the 85 scholarship hard limit) in 2021— two early enrollees counted back to 2020, and the full allotment for what is reportedly a strong crop of in-state talent.

Confused? Don’t be— we’ll be here to sort it out.

11:40am: I’m back, albeit briefly. With Elijah Green, the Heels have their entire commitment list (save Pinder and Elijah Burris) signed and sealed. Pinder’s situation is still very much in flux, and Burris is not going to sign during the early signing period.

Elijah Green
5-10/190, Roswell, Georgia
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #65 (state), #46 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #91, NR
247 Organic: 3-stars, #1692, #152, #109
247 Composite: 3-stars, #987, #103, #64

BLESSED TRINITY STAND UP! (Shout out to my three friends sharing Green’s alma mater). Green was a surprise commit late this past summer, as the Heels already had pledges from Elijah Burris and D.J. Jones. He played his senior season a little heavier than his listed 190, and certainly finishes runs like a bigger back. If you put a gun to my head, I think I like his film better than the other two backs, but all three are more than capable of being potential 1,000 yard rushers in Chapel Hill.

9:50am: Tight ends stay tight, and end their recruitments together. (I’m a little punchy at this point, apologies.)

Kendall Karr
6-4/230, Charlotte, NC
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #14 (state), #11 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #20, #33
247 Organic: 3-stars, #684, #21, #30
247 Composite: 3-stars, #679, #17, #28

John Copenhaver
6-3/210, Roswell, Georgia
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #46 (state), #6 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #43, #20
247 Organic: 3-stars, #428, #44, #17
247 Composite: 3-stars, #438, #44, #16

In Karr and Copenhaver, the Heels get two guys who chose North Carolina over a bevy of name programs— Karr had offers from Auburn, LSU, Penn State and Oregon, while Copenhaver boasted them from Florida, Tennessee (well, I said name programs) and others.

Its hard not to evaluate these guys together, because both had injuries during the spring and summer that limited their senior seasons. As both are early enrollees, it’ll be interesting to see what returns we get on them from spring ball.

9:48am: I couldn’t quit you. Apparently my concerns noted below about Clyde Pinder are coming true, as indications are that he WON’T be signing with the Tar Heels today.

9:41am: The day job is calling. I’ll be back in an hour or so to (hopefully) put a bow on this thing.

9:40am: This may interest me and only me, but there are six D.J. Joneses in college football that popped up under “suggested tags” on my last edit.

9:36am: Cedric Gray, Tar Heel.

Cedric Gray – (Athlete/Wide Receiver/Outside Linebacker)
6-2/205, Charlotte, NC
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #31 (state), #159 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #30, #NR
247 Organic: 3-stars, #599, #18, #35
247 Composite: 3-stars, #925, #28, #57

I love Gray’s size and athleticism, and while he may not be fellow Charlotte native T****** S******, I expect him to come on campus and surprise some people. He and Ethan West join a pretty thin inside linebacker group, but with the return from injury of Matthew Flint, and some positive early returns on Eugene Asante and Khadry Jackson, the Heels have P5-caliber players down the depth chart behind Chazz Surratt and Jeremiah Gemmel for the first time since the Butch Davis-era recruits graduated.

9:26am: Taking a breather to see who’s left: as I mentioned literally right below this, the other two running backs, Elijahs Burris and Green, still have LOI’s outstanding. Depending on how you feel about Jefferson Boaz, Carolina does or does not have an LOI from a tight end— but is awaiting Kendall Karr and John Copenhaver. Additionally, Charlotte linebacker Cedric Gray and the source of the most consternation on the Tar Heel Blog slack channel (save for T****** S******), Clyde Pinder, is keeping us waiting.

Of things to be concerned about, Pinder officially visited home state Florida over the weekend. Given his prototypical nose tackle body type, he has long been on the very short list of “most important” recruits for me, so here’s hoping the Heels keep him in the fold.

9:15am: Go DJ! That my DJ! Its really weird how certain position groups seem to have faxed LOI’s faster than others. D.J. Jones is Carolina’s 20th signee, but first among the three committed running backs. Neither of the tight ends have faxed theirs either, while all of the secondary, offensive line, and receivers have.


D.J. Jones
5-11/190, Fayetteville, North Carolina
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), 16 (state), 43 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #39, NR
247 Organic: 3-stars, #562, #19, #40
247 Composite: 3-stars, #832, #23, #57

Jones is your jack-of-all-trades running back— he won’t use the truck stick very often, and he won’t run past SEC secondaries— but he is good to above-average at everything he does, and is thus a perfect fit for Phil Longo’s system.

He’s enrolling early, as well, so he should have a leg up on his running back classmates. He likely won’t see the field much in 2020 with a crowded running back room, but with the departures of Michael Carter (graduation) and Javonte Williams (speculating because he’s a hoss), PT at that position becomes very attainable for Jones in 2021.

9:08am: Two more as I caught up with Zimmerman, Criswell, and Chalmers: Malik McGowan and Tylee Craft— two guys who interest me, as you’ll see below.

Malik McGowan -- (Guard)
6-3/347 Charlotte, North Carolina
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #27 (state), #47 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #31, NR
247 Organic: 3-stars, #1665, #59, #101
247 Composite: 3-stars, #1348, #45, #83

Tylee Craft
6-4/172, Sumter, South Carolina
ESPN: 4-stars, #278 (national), #7 (state), #60 (position)
Rivals: 2-stars, NR, NR, NR
247 Organic: 3-stars, #433, #7, #80
247 Composite: 3-stars, #831, #11, #126

First, McGowan, who rounds out Carolina’s four man OL class. McGowan is an interesting case to me— reports are that he hasn’t been super dominant despite playing at the private school level in high school. With that said, at 347 pounds, conditioning is likely an issue, some S&C work and coaching with Stacy Searels will help him reach his potential. Of all the guys who are coming in for spring ball, McGowan is on the short list of players I’d like to see go ahead and get that extra time on the development train.

Craft’s ranking and quiet recruitment are pretty shocking to me, as 6’4 receivers with his ball skills and quickness don’t grow on trees. His high school numbers won’t blow you away, but this is the type of rangy, athletic receiver the Heels have missed since the days of Quinshad Davis and Bug Howard— but with a little more top-end explosiveness. Once he irons out some of the technical aspects of the receiver position (using his hands and route running to create better separation, mostly) ...look out.

8:58am: A little behind-the-scenes here: my dog did not want to walk at 6:15, as I had planned. So I am now back from walking the dog.

Trey Zimmerman – (Tackle)
6-6/294 Roswell, Georgia
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #57 (state), #57 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #55, #42
247 Organic: 3-stars, #958, #83, #80
247 Composite: 3-stars, #599, #65, #48

Jacolby Criswell
6-1/218, Morrilton, Arkansas
ESPN: 4-stars, #243 (national), #2 (state), #11 (position)
Rivals: 4-stars, NR, #2, #14
247 Organic: 4-stars, #309, #3, #10
247 Composite: 4-stars, #269, #2, #11

Jayden Chalmers – (Cornerback)
6-0/160, Sanford, North Carolina
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #40 (state), #106 (position)
Rivals: 2-stars, NR, NR, NR
247 Organic: 3-stars, #1425, #49, #120
247 Composite: 3-stars, #1648, #59, #141

In Zimmerman, the Tar Heels get another important piece to future O-lines (I’ll reiterate my concerns about the tackle position moving forward). In yet another come-from-behind recruitment, the Georgia native appeared Auburn bound before the Heels closed.

Criswell’s LOI arriving in should generate a HUGE sigh of relief in Chapel Hill. After the departure of Cade Fortin and the injury to Jace Ruder, the Heels were one snap away from turning to a true freshman walk-on at QB behind Sam Howell this year.

Criswell had some late flirtation with Auburn and Arkansas, but the Arkansas native spurned his home state and region to stick with the Tar Heels after some wavering. On the field, a lazy comp for him would be Marquise Williams because of his impressive size and arm— but Criswell is more accomplished at this stage as a short and intermediate passer, and less of a runner. After Howell goes #1 in the 2022 draft, Criswell should be ready to step in and not miss a beat.

Jayden Chalmers, for my money, seems underrated by all of the recruiting services (because seriously, how hard is it to EVALUATE an 8-month P5 commit?) Chalmers was the defensive back MVP at the Nike Opening regional, and camped numerous times at UNC to earn his offer. He’s the type of guy who makes it really easy to cheer for him.

8:28am: The run on defensive linemen continues.

Kedrick Bingley-Jones
6-4/266, Charlotte, NC
ESPN: 4-stars, #245 (national), #10(state), #25 (position)
Rivals: 4-stars, #98, #3, #5
247 Organic: 4-stars, #177, #7, #14
247 Composite: 4-stars, #142, #4, #13

Bingley-Jones, initially a Florida commit, was one of the most impressive players in the state his senior season. As an early enrollee, I expect him to be the first among this defensive line class to make an impact on the field next fall, as he is capable of playing the 4i or the nose in Jay Bateman’s scheme.


AJ Beatty
6-5/250, Pittsburgh, PA
ESPN: 3-stars, #NR (national), #16 (state), #131 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #5, #27
247 Organic: 3-stars, #1319, #15, #66
247 Composite: 3-stars, #917, #9, #48

Back-to-back rangy DE/OLB’s, you say? Let’s get it then.

Beatty may be more of a developmental prospect than a plug-and-play guy, but the tools and athleticism are impressive.

The Heels are going to have a ridiculous defensive front in the coming years.

8:16am: The big fish has made it official, Des Evans is making the trip an hour north to Chapel Hill.

Desmond Evans
6-6/240, Sanford, NC
ESPN: 5-stars, #2 (national), #1 (state), #1 (position)
Rivals: 4-stars, #47, #2, #2
247 Organic: 4-stars, #81, #2, #2
247 Composite: 4-stars, #32, #2, #2

I don’t know what more needs to be said about this guy, except that he’s the type of commit that makes other guys want to come to UNC to play football. On the field, he was downgraded to a 4-star by 247 because his stats didn’t justify his ranking— 35 TFL and 11 sacks is apparently insufficient for their five-star recruits.

While he’s still maybe a little technically raw, guys with Evans’ athleticism at his size are exceedingly rare. Let’s enjoy this one.

8:10am: After hitting my third cup of coffee, the Heels closed their 11th cup of recruit (still workshopping some things, guys). Ray Rose, come on down!

Ray Rose — (Receiver)
6-1/204 Belmont, N.C.
Rivals: 4-stars, #11 WR, #10 NC
247 Organic: 3-stars, $401, #73, #13
247 Composite: 3-stars, #404, #66, #14

I get excited about guys like Rose. He put up decent numbers in a Wing-T offense at South Point, showed well (despite maybe being a little raw running against something besides straight man coverage) in camps, and thus has MASSIVE upside.


Cayden Baker – (Tackle)
6-6/260 Fort Myers, Florida
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #47 (state), #72 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, NR, NR
247 Organic: 3-stars, #453, #58, #36
247 Composite: 3-stars, #713, #97, #53

Baker is only in his second year of competitive football, but his coach— a 30-year veteran in the profession— said he has more upside than anyone who has ever played for him.

Baker is a HIGHLY necessary part of this class, as the Heels needed (and still need) some O-linemen with the feet to play tackle. Baker is definitely that, and as he adds strength, he could become a force.

7:59am: Told y’all we’d get back to the “this staff is trolling N.C. State a little bit” theme— and we’re doing so with receiver Stephen Gosnell.

Stephen Gosnell
6-2/200, Pilot Mountain, North Carolina
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #29 (state), #220 (position) (Note: ESPN lists Gosnell as being from Virginia, so these may be wrong)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #24, NR
247 Organic: 3-stars, #861, #26, #139
247 Composite: 3-stars, #942, #29, #141

Gosnell jumped the sinking ship in West Raleigh a couple of days after Adorno. At the time, I was on record saying this felt like a reach— and the numbers would prove me very wrong.

With the caveat that he played in 1A with Boaz, Gosnell put up 1544 yards on 22.7 yards per catch and 22 TDs as a receiver, and rushed for 9 yards a carry on 36 attempts. On film, he shows as a guy who explodes out of his breaks and blows by defenders.

I was wrong, Stephen. Now go prove me right.

7:53am: I don’t think I’m legally bound to be unbiased on this site, so I’ll say it: Ja’Qurious Conley is my favorite player in this class.

Ja’Qurious Conley – (Safety)
6-2/190, Jacksonville, NC
ESPN: 4-stars, #250 (national), #11 (state), #13 (position)
Rivals: 4-stars, #196, #9, #16
247 Organic: 4-stars, #112, #5, #10
247 Composite: 4-stars, #160, #7, #13

Conley was one of those “mystery” recruits in the spring and summer, as he no-showed a lot of UNC (and other schools’) events. He finally made it to campus in July, and surprisingly committed soon after.

As a player, Ja just looks different on the field. He dominated the 252 as a senior at receiver, kick returner, and safety. He reminds me of another ENC safety, Deunta Williams. I think we’d take that as an outcome for his Carolina career, but I think Conley’s speed and instincts are better.

7:50am: Kaimon Rucker

Kaimon Rucker
6-1/240, Hartwell, GA
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #38 (state), #142 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, NR, NR
247 Organic: 3-stars, #1698, #154, #91
247 Composite: 3-stars, #1508, #151, #78

For the second straight year, the Heels dipped into Georgia for some D-line talent (they found three there last year). With his stockier build, think more Dwight Freeney-style edge rusher— the Heels will likely line him up as a rush linebacker in Jay Bateman’s scheme.

Rucker missed much of his senior season due to a leg injury, and is thus one of the bigger mysteries in his class. His film, though? Much better than your typical “second-lowest ranked guy in the class,” the dude is a player.

7:47am: Cameron Roseman-Sinclair, from my backyard in Charlotte. Welcome home, big fella!

Cameron Roseman-Sinclair – (Safety)
6-0/190, Charlotte, NC
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #13 (state), #25 (position)
Rivals: 4-stars, #102, #4, #7
247 Organic: 4-stars, #304, #10, #27
247 Composite: 4-stars, #237, #11, #23

I mentioned Dre Bly’s influence in the Downs capsule, but the first impact the young coach made on the recruiting trail was with this 4-star safety. “CRS” was long considered a Virginia Tech lean, but the Heels secured a surprise commitment from him early in the cycle.

A four-year starter at Myers Park High School, Roseman-Sinclair brings high-level instincts and some high-level hitting to the Rude Boys.

7:40am: Jonathan Adorno!

Jonathan Adorno – (Guard)
6-4/290 Rolesville, North Carolina
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #29 (state), #52 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #21, #80
247 Organic: 3-stars, #717, #22, #39
247 Composite: 3-stars, #777, #21, #49

Adorno is one of those “mean streak” offensive linemen you love to have on your interior. In my opinion the most college-ready of Carolina’s four OL commits, we’re still likely not going to see him for a couple of years despite his early enrollment.

This has been a theme early, but I should mention: Adorno was a State commit who saw the light and flipped to the good guys in October. With Downs below and another to come, that’s a little bit of a theme.

7:36am: Josh Downs. These are spacing out nicely to where I can write my blurbs that I totally didn’t prepare last night as planned.

Josh Downs
5-10/165, Suwanee, Georgia
ESPN: 4-stars, #278 (national), #28 (state), #46 (position)
Rivals: 4-stars, #105, #12, #21
247 Organic: 4-stars, #423, #42, #77
247 Composite: 4-stars, #210, #22, #36

In Downs, UNC fans should think Ryan Switzer. The nephew of DB’s coach Dre Bly is a diminutive speed merchant, really fitting a niche that doesn’t exist on the roster behind rising senior Dazz Newsome (though guys like Welton Spottsville and Khafre Brown could fill that role).

Downs’ recruitment is best going to be remembered as a major score over in-state rival N.C. State, despite him hailing from Georgia. His father played for the Wolfpack in the 90’s, and it seemed as if he’d be following in those footsteps. Enter Uncle Dre Bly, who helped him see the light, and helped the Heels fend off pursuits from Penn State and others.

7:28am: The Heels have (well, officially) their first four-star, and its Myles Murphy.

Myles Murphy
6-6/240, Greensboro, NC
ESPN: 4-stars, #69 (national), #3 (state), #8 (position)
Rivals: 4-stars, NR, #11, #16
247 Organic: 4-stars, #110, #4, #6
247 Composite: 4-stars, #122, #3, #6

Built like a tank, the Greensboro native is among the leading candidates for immense PT as a true freshman in 2020, as he will compete for the Jason Strowbridge-sized hole on the defensive front. He amassed 21 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks as a senior at Dudley, is teammates with 2021 5* DT Payton Page, and most importantly is the second-highest rated commit in this class.

The Heels flipped what looked to be a sure South Carolina pledge, and in 5 years when we laugh about all the in-state D-line talent the Heels KEPT...Murphy was the first.

7:22am: Mister West!

Ethan West
6-4/225, Midlothian, Virginia
ESPN: 4-stars, NR (national), #11 (state), #8 (position)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #12, #41
247 Organic: 3-stars, #736, #17, #29
247 Composite: 3-stars, #490, #12, #22

West was one of the early momentum-builders in this class, as the rangy linebacker held offers from Michigan and LSU, among others, when he chose to verbal to the Heels. He was part of a series of UNC commits who dropped in the 247 rankings in October, with the company citing “not jumping off the page” as a reason.

Make no mistake— West can make a huge impact at the next level. His height is more than you typically see for an inside linebacker, but he is very fluid for his size and will affect quick passing lanes with his length.

West is scheduled to be one of 13 signees to enroll early.

7:15am: The first signee is in, and its Jefferson Boaz.

Jefferson Boaz
6-7/230 Pilot Mountain, North Carolina
ESPN: 3-stars, NR (national), #37 (state), #91 (position) (Note: ESPN lists him at “athlete”)
Rivals: 3-stars, NR, #22, NR
247 Organic: 3-stars, #789, #25, #32
247 Composite: 3-stars, #894, #27, #40

Boaz has been the topic of much debate recently, as the 1-A state champ is projected as a jumbo athlete. His eye-popping stats (65 TD’s, 6 Int) as a QB his senior year led many to believe that his best path forward may be behind center— and it would appear he will start his Carolina career there.

With his frame, the upside at quarterback, tight end, or even defensive end or offensive tackle is obvious— though he would be considered ‘raw’ at any of the positions. If he can stick at quarterback, its one less thing for the Heels to worry about going forward.

7:12am: Goooooooood morning and welcome to the second annual Signing Day live thread! There is no reason not to fully expect all of North Carolina’s commits to sign today, making Mack Brown’s first full class at UNC in 23 years a successful one.

Same as always: I’m here doing the live blog, but our good pal Jake Lawrence is doing work behind the scenes. Let’s do this thing!