While the Cole Anthony and Anthony Harris signings are busy (rightfully) stealing the headlines, Mack Brown is busy adding some interesting pieces to his 8th-ranked 2020 football recruiting class.
Over the past week, the Tar Heels have secured four new verbal commitments, bringing the current total to an impressive 12 — it and appears there could be some more headliners on the way.
Charlotte-area tight end Kendall Karr got the train rolling last Thursday, committing to the Heels over an impressive list of schools including SEC stalwarts Auburn, LSU, and (not so much a stalwart) South Carolina, among others. Karr, who unfortunately tore his ACL at a camp recently, is the nation’s 19th-ranked TE according to 247Sports, and their 598th-ranked player overall. His ranking was set to rise prior to his injury, but he will likely be passed over now. Still, it’s very nice to win a highly contested battle for an in-state player.
Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, a second tight end, Roswell (GA) native John Copenhaver, pulled the trigger on Sunday evening. A teammate of 2020 OL commit Trey Zimmerman, Copenhaver is a 6’3, 210 athletic specimen capable of putting a hand in the dirt or lining up out wide. He’s the nation’s 12th-ranked tight end and 452nd player overall. Again, the Heels won out over a good chunk of the SEC— Florida, Tennessee, and (lol again) South Carolina were among his standout offers.
Both tight ends project to play early in their college careers, as the Heels will lose Carl Tucker and Jake Bargas following the 2019 season.
On Friday, the Heels added a sleeper in S.C. WR Tylee Craft. Hailing from Sumter, the 6’4 Craft is noted for exceptional quick-burst speed, not something one normally hears about a rangy receiver whose body screams “possession type”. His recruitment is set to take off this camp season; he’s a bit of an unknown playing in a run-heavy offense. A high schooler who’s 6’4 and runs an 11.1 second 100-meter dash, as long as he can catch, is going to be a hot commodity. The Heels may have to, again, hold off some SEC competition to get Craft to sign come this December or next February.
Finally, on Wednesday night, Charlotte athlete Cedric Gray popped for the Heels. Like Craft, his recruitment hasn’t really taken off yet, as his other offers were among the Appalachian States and Akrons of the world. Gray is going to play linebacker in Carolina blue, and his commitment speaks to the dedication of the staff to recruit athletes and find the best spot on the field for them. Gray has primarily been used on offense at Ardrey Kell High School.
One can see an emphasis on getting Phil Longo some weapons— among the Heels’ 12 commitments, five are targets in the passing game. Along with two offensive linemen and RB Elijah Burris, the Heels are a quarterback away from having a class in place where they can shoot for the stars, positions be darned, for the remainder of the cycle.
Defensively, the Heels have some top-end talent in the back seven with DBs Cameron Roseman-Sinclair and LaMareon James, and LB Ethan West. We’re probably going to see some more activity on that end before the summer is out. To wit, Steve Wiltfong from 247 Sports had this to say this morning:
Logged a 247Sports Crystal Ball forecast in favor of North Carolina for Top247 outside linebacker Trenton Simpson after talking to a source with knowledge of the recruitment.
The four-star recruit has taken recent visits to Georgia, Auburn, and Tennessee, but has been to Chapel Hill something like six times since December. Tommy Thigpen is leading the charge for the Tar Heels on this one and UNC looks to be in great position for the 247Sports Composite’s No. 9 outside linebacker and No. 5 recruit overall in the state of North Carolina.
I also believe the Tar Heels are near the top for the No. 6 prospect in the state in Top247 recruit Kedrick Bingley Jones who is the country’s No. 14 defensive tackle. A source believes this is a Duke-UNC battle.
Also keep an eye on North Carolina for the No. 4 recruit in Jacolbe Cowan, the country’s No. 6 strong-side defensive end. Georgia and Tennessee are a couple others in a good spot with the Tar Heels right in the thick of it.
Along with the potential fireworks on the defensive side (which fail to mention the perceived lead the Heels may have for 5* DE Desmond Evans), the Heels are also in the thick of it for elite QB Malik Hornsby. Per his Twitter feed last night:
At this moment I would like to say thank you to all the coaches that gave me an opportunity to continue my dream as a football player but at this time I would like to drop my top 8 school please respect my @JoeHamilton__ @SWiltfong247 @Perroni247 @joeagleason @ErikRichardsUSA pic.twitter.com/FgL8U87xBZ— Malik Hornsby (@1MalikH1) April 25, 2019
I’ve long lived by the “don’t tweet recruits” philosophy of following recruiting, but a quick glance at his page certainly makes a Carolina fan feel good about the Heels’ chances.
Just for fun, running those five names through the 247 “Class Calculator” tool puts the Heels at 3rd in the country, behind Clemson and Alabama. The total class ‘points’ of 235 would put the Heels WELL past their exploits from any previous cycle since 2009, with room to grow as the lower-ranked prospects are evaluated and with 6-7 more spots to fill. For reference, the 235 points from those 17 commits alone would have put UNC at #25 in the 2019 class. A full class at this pace likely breaks the top 15.
In short, it’s a great time to be a Tar Heel.