Another week. Another big-time commitment for UNC football. On Thursday evening, 2020 athlete Ja’Qurious Conley announced his intentions to play for North Carolina. The in-state product announced his commitment at his high school this evening.
The 6-2, 190-pound recruit from Jacksonville, NC projects to play in the defensive backfield - a position group that Mack Brown has made a priority. Playing for Northside High School, the 4-star athlete is the #12 player in the state of North Carolina according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings. He recently rose to the #5 overall player in the state in 247’s recently updated organic rankings.
ESPN ranks him as the #10 player in North Carolina and 230th in the nation, making him UNC’s fifth ESPN300 recruit. He is joined by DE’s Myles Murphy and Kedrick Bingley-Jones, QB Jacolby Criswell, and WR Josh Downs. That is tied for the most ESPN300 athletes this decade.
Larry Fedora’s first full recruiting class in 2013 also had five recruits among ESPN’s top 300 recruits. That class was aided by the fact that Fedora had actually been on the job for 14 months by the time that class was signed. Mack Brown has only been on the job for 262 days.
No matter how you look at it, Conley’s addition to the Heels provides another highly-touted playmaker in a suddenly robust secondary (assuming Conley stays at that position in college). As we documented a few weeks ago, UNC has also received the commitments of three transfers this offseason. All three of those transfers will play in the secondary. Conley also joins current 2020 defensive backfield commitments Cameron Roseman-Sinclair, LaMareon James, and Jayden Chalmers, as well as athlete Cedric Gray.
South Carolina was thought to be UNC’s major competition, and Conley had an official visit scheduled for September. It’s not known if that visit will still happen. Conley is also the second recent recruit that UNC has earned over the Gamecocks, after Myles Murphy picked UNC last month. Earlier today, South Carolina did beat UNC for 4-star DT Tonka Hemingway.
Conley’s visit to UNC’s cook-out event in late July sealed the deal. It was just the second time he has visited Chapel Hill this year. Both visits were the unofficial kind. Like we often say, recruiting is weird.
After nearly a decade of watching the Tar Heels consistently get overrun on defense, it’s clear that the new staff is borderline hellbent to ensure that trend is reversed. Conley’s commitment is another building block to achieve that goal.
Conley is North Carolina’s 23rd commitment for 2020. More importantly, he is the 12th player from North Carolina to commit to the Heels. Mack Brown has now signed or received the verbal commitments of 22 in-state recruits since taking over last November.