clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UNC Football: 2019 Signing Day Primer

Somehow, some way, UNC is knocking on the door of a top-30 recruiting class.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at North Carolina Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

We are less than 48 hours away from the second signing period of the 2019 football recruiting class. North Carolina currently has 22 total commitments. In December, the majority of the class signed when 19 recruits sent in their LOI. Since then, three more recruits have verbally committed and will sign on Wednesday. There are a few more targets who will likely make their decision on or before February 6th. Here is a quick primer about where UNC stands in the recruiting world. If you need a refresher, here’s a quick review on how UNC put together their class before the Early Signing Period.

December Signing Day

We covered the Early Signing Period as it happened. You can re-live that fun with Chad’s running commentary and his initial recap of the day’s festivities.

The bottom line was that by the end of the period, UNC had risen to the mid-30’s in the recruiting rankings. That kind of achievement was unfathomable heading into the season finale against NC State. North Carolina was hovering in the 60s on most recruiting services, and momentum was non-existent with a 2-9 season. That included multiple misses on top in-state recruits.

In the week following Larry Fedora’s dismissal, the Heels plummeted to the low 80s, as 6 of the 13 recruits that verbally committed to the previous staff decided to look elsewhere. Some reached that decision on their own, while others were likely encouraged to explore different options. As of today, just three of those six have landed at Power 5 schools. That left just seven recruits committed to UNC with less than three weeks to the first signing period.

Somehow, the staff not only found six replacements for the de-commitments, but they added six more recruits. By the end of the signing period, 19 new Tar Heels were signed, sealed, and delivered. Of those recruits, seven had previously been committed to other schools, but ultimately picked UNC. Five of those “flips” came from other P5 schools, and four of those five came from ACC schools. Here’s the full list of currently signed recruits for the class of 2019. (“Stars” are courtesy of 247 Sports Composite rankings)

Original Fedora Recruits

RB Josh Henderson, 6-0/205, Princeton, NJ (3-stars)
S Giovanni Biggers, 6-1/180, Baltimore, MD (3-stars)
WR Welton Spottsville, 6-0/195, Havelock, NC (3-stars)
OL Asim Richards, 6-5/285, Haverford, PA (3-stars)
TE Kamari Morales, 6-3/232, Tallahassee, FL (3-stars)
CB Storm Duck, 6-1/180, Boiling Springs, SC (3-stars)
LS Drew Little, 5-11/230, New London, NC (2-stars)

Mack Brown’s Recruits

QB Sam Howell, 6-1/225, Monroe, NC (4-stars, Florida State)
WR Khafre Brown, 6-0/175, Charlotte, NC (4-stars)
OL Triston Miller, 6-6/275, Charlotte, NC (4-stars, NC State)
WR Emery Simmons, 6-0/185, Hope Mills, NC (3-stars, Penn State)
DE Tomari Fox, 6-3/250, Suwanee, GA (3-stars)
S Khadry Jackson, 6-2/190, Windermere FL (3-stars, Pittsburgh)
OL Wyatt Tunall, 6-5/270, Chester, SC (3-stars, Appalachian State)
CB Obi Egbuna, 5-10/170, Charlotte, NC (3-stars, Richmond)
DE Kevin Hester, 6-6, 230, Kennesaw, GA (3-stars)
WR Justin Olson, 6-2/182, Huntersville, NC (3-stars)
DE Kristian Varner, 6-4/240, Hiram, GA (3-stars, Louisville)
P Ben Kiernan, 6-0/205, Raleigh, NC (2-stars)

Note the number of recruits from North Carolina (in italics). When Fedora was dismissed, only 4 of his 13 recruits were from the state. Two of those players de-committed, leaving Mack Brown with just two in-state players before he completed his first week on the job. Morale among the fanbase was low, if not despondent. That quickly changed.

In December, Brown’s staff added seven in-state recruits, bringing the number of North Carolina high school players to nine — more than doubling the previous staff’s total. UNC is also the only team to have three or more commits ranked in the top 10 in North Carolina. They aren’t done, with at least one more target residing within the state’s borders having UNC on his short list.

Unsigned Verbal Commitments

Since that signing period, the staff has continued to hammer the recruiting trail. That’s led to three more verbal commitments, including another flip from an ACC program and a defensive back who delayed signing with a Pac-12 program in December after receiving an offer UNC.

CB Don Chapman, 6-2/185, San Diego, CA (3-stars, Washington State)
OL Ty Murray, 6-4/300, Carrolton, GA (3-stars, Louisville)
DE Ray Vohasek, 6-4/255, Glen Ellyn, IL (3-stars, JUCO)

Don’t be fooled by the ho-hum 3-star ratings. All three recruits were identified as viable candidates to fill positions of critical need. You can read about Don Chapman in this quick profile. We also mentioned Murray and Vohasek in a weekly recruiting recap earlier in mid-January.

Remaining Targets

That leaves the program with the ability to sign at least three more recruits on Wednesday. While UNC isn’t expected to sign all of the following players, here is their final known wish list. None of these recruits have committed. I’ve also listed schools that are known to be UNCs main competition for each player.

LB Eugene Asante, 6-1/215, Chantilly, VA (4-stars, Virginia Tech, Florida State)
CB Collin Duncan, 6-0/190, Montgomery, AL (3-stars, Mississippi State)
DT Wisdom Asaboro, 6-8/280, Matthews, NC (3-stars, Virginia)
DE Michael Lockhart, 6-5/264, Birmingham, AL (3-stars, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech)
LB Octavius Brothers, 6-2/210, Rockledge, FL (3-stars, Auburn, Miami)

What’s Next

Some players will announce their decision today and tomorrow and others will wait until signing day. UNC may not even know who decides to commit until the LOI arrives in the office. Such is life when your success depends on the minds of teenagers.

That is just part of the fun.

At the time of this post being published, UNC is knocking on the door of a top-30 class ranking. Whether you enjoy the rankings game or don’t take them too seriously, they’re always fun for conversation and bragging rights. Truthfully, the overall talent discrepancy between the 25th ranked class and the 35th ranked class is relatively small. With the exception of Clemson and Florida State, schools in the ACC are not, and have not been, radically out-recruiting North Carolina even with two dismal years.

Here are UNC’s current class rankings, compared to NC State, Miami, and Virginia Tech:

247 Sports: 31st (NC State, 27th/Virginia Tech, 30th/Miami, 32nd)
Rivals: 36th (NC State, 28th/Virginia Tech, 27th/Miami 42nd)
ESPN: 38th (NC State, 29th/Virginia Tech, 31st/Miami, 35th)
247 Composite: 33rd (NC State, 27th/Virginia Tech 29th/Miami, 32nd)

For context, each recruiting service has different evaluating criteria, methods, and resources. They update their rankings at different times. With thousands of football players to evaluate, it can be an exhaustive process. Recruiting services are often accused of increasing or decreasing a recruit’s ranking solely based on the school he commits to. The truth for discrepancies is probably somewhere in the middle and ultimately doesn’t really matter.

The main takeaway is that with a strong finish to this class, the talent gap won’t significantly widen between UNC and most other ACC opponents. Maybe most importantly to UNC fans, in a perfect (but unlikely) scenario the Heels can even pass NC State. Seriously.

And to think, just 60 days ago these accomplishments were considered impossible.

Let’s. Get. This. Work.

Make sure to check back here at Tar Heel Blog on Wednesday, February 6th for our live comprehensive coverage as events unfold throughout the day.