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UNC Football: Seven future Heels earn AP all-state honors

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Players from 2020 and 2021 were named as 2019 AP all-state selections for North Carolina.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been no secret that Mack Brown has made a concerted effort to recruit top talent inside North Carolina. Fourteen in-state prospects signed for 2020, and three more have already committed for 2021. Earlier this week, seven of those recruits earned all-state honors from the Associated Press. Four were named on offense and three on defense, but it’s important to remember some of these recruit’s future college positions are still to be determined.

Offense

Jefferson Boaz, QB, East Surry High School
Stephen Gosnell, WR, East Surry High School
Malik McGowan, OL, Charlotte Catholic
Ja’Qurious Conley, ATH, Jacksonville High School

Defense

Desmond Evans, DL, Lee County High School
Myles Murphy, DL, Greensboro Dudley High School
Power Echols, LB, Zebulon B. Vance High School

Additionally, Jefferson Boaz and Power Echols took home additional hardware.

UNC’s most recent commitment, Echols was the team’s only unanimous selection. He was also the Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season after posting 156 tackle, 22 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, and 7 forced fumbles. He was named the MVP of the 4AA state title game when Vance High School defeated Leesville Road 24-3. Echols contributed a 14-yard touchdown run in that game.

Most impressive about those feats? Echols is just a junior. He won’t be on UNC’s campus until 2021.

Boaz was named the Offensive Player of the Year after leading East Surry to the 1AA state title. In his senior season he threw for 4,615 yards, 65 touchdown, and just 6 interceptions. He ran for an additional 466 yards and 17 touchdowns. Regardless of the level of competition, those stats are deserving of the additional honor.

Many of those throwing stats can be attributed to fellow all-state selection Stephen Gosnell.. The 6-2 wide receiver is credited with 1,544 receiving yards and 22 receiving touchdowns. Boaz obviously had a favorite target.

Ja’Qurious Conley proved to be a versatile weapon on both sides of the ball, accumulating 24 touchdowns on the ground, through the air, returning interceptions, and returning kick-offs. Conley also earned 2,882 all-purpose yards on offense and special teams to complement 52 tackles and 3 INTs on defense.

Desmond Evans also lived up to ESPN 5-star ranking with a solid senior campaign. He was credited with 76 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks. Evans projects to line up as a DE/LB hybrid in Jay Bateman’s scheme.

Evans’ future teammate in the trenches, Myles Murphy, also finished off a strong high school career. He finished with 70 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and 15 quarterback hurries. (Note: All stats are from MaxPreps).

North Carolina currently has a consensus top-20 recruiting class in the nation. Rivals ranks them at #15, ESPN at #16, and 247 Sports brings up the rear at #18. With a loaded in-state crop of recruits for 2021, the Heels are well positioned to improve on those rankings next spring.