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UNC Football 2020 Early Signing Day Primer: The Offense

A quick look at 9 recruits for Phil Longo’s offense.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at North Carolina Pool Photo

We are (finally!) nearing the end of one of most bizarre 12-month cycles in recent American history. Before the calendar turns to 2021 there is one more relatively new tradition we must prepare for.

No, not Christmas. Or Hanakkuh. Or any other holiday you may celebrate.

I’m talking about the NCAA college football Early Signing Period. Introduced in 2017, the December period takes place over three days after the regular season concludes (at least in non-pandemic ravaged years). This year those dates are from 16-18 December, which is...*checks notes*... this Wedensday, Thursday, and Friday! So, check out these numbers for UNC’s 2021 recruiting class before we give a quick breakdown of UNC’s offensive recruits. We’ll follow this up tomorrow with the defensive side of the ball.

UNC’s 2021 class by the numbers:

  • 18 x verbal commits
  • 14 x in-state recruits, tying an internet-era program record. (There’s a case to be made for 15, as WR Kobe Paysour committed when he was enrolled in North Carolina, but transferred to play his senior season in South Carolina).
  • 10 x ESPN 300 recruits. That’s a program record.
  • 17 x 4-stars (from at least one of ESPN, Rivals, or 247 Sports)
  • 1 x 5-star recruit. (The other 5-star recruit, Tony Grimes, reclassified to 2020)
  • 38 of 67 recruits since Mack came back are from North Carolina (assuming nobody decommits on Signing Day).
  • The 2021 class is currently nationally ranked 7th (ESPN), 13th (247 Sports), and 16th (Rivals).

So, with all of that settled, here are the anticipated recruits for the offensive side of the ball. For additional information, I’ve added links to Tar Heel Blog’s coverage from each player’s original verbal commitment.

Quarterback (1)

Drake Maye
6-5, 210
Myers Park HS, Charlotte, NC

Rivals: QB, 4-stars, #145 (national), #8 (position), #9 (state)
ESPN: QB, 4-stars, #45 (national), #8 (position), #4 (state)
247 Sports (organic): QB, 4-stars, #24 (national), #2 (position), #1 (state)
247 Sports (composite): QB, 4-stars, #57 (national), #6 (position), #3 (state)

One of many players who did not have a fall season, Maye will enroll at UNC this spring. He’ll join a junior Sam Howell and sophomore Jacolby Criswell in the quarterback room, ensuring UNC has depth and talent when Howell eventually moves onto the NFL. As a sophomore and junior, Maye accumulated 6,713 yards on a 68.5% completion rate, 86 TDs, and 7 INTs.

And, in case you missed it, he flipped from Alabama after originally committing to Nick Saban.

Running Backs (2)

Kamarro Edmonds
5-11, 225
Havelock HS, Havelock, NC

Rivals: ATH, 3-stars, #NR (national), #27 (position), #23 (state)
ESPN: Safety, 4-stars, #223 (national), #9 (position), #15 (state)
247 Sports (organic): RB, 4-stars, #138 (national), #8 (position), #11 (state)
247 Sports (composite): RB, 4-stars, #148 (national), #13 (position), #16 (state)

Edmonds played both the offensive and defensive backfields in high school, but is expected to switch to running back at the next level. In his junior season he gained 1,402 yards, averaged 9.5 ypc, and ran for 17 touchdowns. Edmonds also had 21 receptions for 270 yards and two more touchdowns. Akil provided a little more information when Edmonds originally commited.

Caleb Hood
6-1, 230
Richmond County HS, Rockingham, NC

Rivals: ATH, 3-stars, #NR (national), #NR (position), #51 (state)
ESPN: QB, 3-stars, #NR (national), #39 (position), #44 (state)
247 Sports (organic): ATH, 4-stars, #NR (national), #24 (position), #26 (state)
247 Sports (composite): ATH, 3-stars, #694 (national), #49 (position), #36 (state)

Hood spent the majority of his high school career as a quarterback, but is also expected to switch to running back. As a junior he rushed for 976 yards and scored 16 touchdowns as a dual-threat QB. For his career he rushed for 1,899 yards and 27 a quarterback. As has been mentioned before, Hood is a Tar Heel legacy as his dad, Errol Hood, played for Carl Torbush.

Wide Receivers (3) and Tight End (1)

JJ Jones
6-3, 195
Myrtle Beach HS, Myrtle Beach, SC

Rivals: WR, 3-star, NR (national), #62(position), #3 (state)
ESPN: WR, 3-star, NR (national), #75 (position), #3 (state)
247 Sports (organic): WR, 4-star, #NR (national), #48 (position), #3 (state)
247 Sports (composite): WR, 3-star, #439 (national), #67 (position), #3 (state)

One of the few out-of-state recruits for this cycle, Jones was fortunate to play his senior year. He took advantage by helping lead his team to the lower-level state title game before falling to North Myrtle Beach. Stats are hard to come by for his school, but in just seven regular season games he had 32 catches for 541 yards and 6 touchdowns. That’s a slight decrease from his 16 touchdown receptions as a junior. More info can be found here.

Kobe Paysour
6-1, 175
Gaffney HS, Gaffney, SC

Rivals: WR, 3-star, NR (national), #64(position), #19 (state)
ESPN: ATH, 4-star, NR (national), #26 (position), #22 (state)
247 Sports (organic): WR, 3-star, #NR (national), #81 (position), #4 (state)
247 Sports (composite): WR, 3-star, #441 (national), #68 (position), #4 (state)

Technically now an out-of-state recruit, Paysour committed when he was still enrolled at Kings Mountain High School in North Carolina. I’m not sure how the rules work, but for all intents and purposes, he should be UNC’s 15th in-state recruit. As a senior in the Palmetto State he is credited with 534 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in a shortened 7-game season. Check out our coverage when he committed back in March.

Gavin Blackwell
6-0, 165
Sun Valley HS, Monroe, NC

Rivals: WR, 4-star, NR (national), #46 (position), #16 (state)
ESPN: WR, 4-star, #164 (national), #31 (position), #9 (state)
247 Sports (organic): WR, 4-star, #227 (national), #31 (position), #14 (state)
247 Sports (composite): WR, 4-star, #205 (national), #36 (position), #13 (state)

One of the top wide receivers in North Carolina, Blackwell will step on UNC’s campus already familiar with the star quarterback. The two were teammates at Sun Valley High School, where Blackwell helped boost Howell’s numbers. As a sophomore and junior Blackwell totaled 119 receptions, 2,144 yards, and 28 touchdowns. In a crowded receiver room Blackwell may be the only WR recruit to have much chance of seeing the field as a freshman. We covered his commitment here.

Bryson Nesbit
6-6, 235
South Mecklenburg HS, Charlotte, NC

Rivals: TE, 4-star, NR (national), #17 (position), #15 (state)
ESPN: TE, 3-star, #NR (national), #10 (position), #30 (state)
247 Sports (organic): TE, 4-star, NR (national), #10 (position), #25 (state)
247 Sports (composite): TE, 4-star, #341 (national), #13 (position), #19 (state)

The son of parents who played football and soccer at South Carolina, this is somewhat of another regional coup for the Heels. Nesbit is the fifth tight end to sign with the Heels over the last three classes, signifying a point of emphasis as the staff overhauls the roster for their system. With just one season of football experience, Nesbit likely projects as a multi-year project. Nesbit is UNC’s most recent commit, joining this class just a few weeks ago.

Offensive Line (2)

Eli Sutton
6-7, 285
Brentwood Academy, Brentwood, TN

Rivals: OT, 4-star, #182 (national), #18 (position), #4 (state)
ESPN: OT, 4-star, NR (national), #31 (position), #11 (state)
247 Sports (organic): OT, 4-star, #231 (national), #25 (position), #5 (state)
247 Sports (composite): OT, 4-star, #255 (national), #20 (position), #7 (state)

Another out-of-state of commit (and the only one from Tennessee), Sutton continues the recent emphasis on very large humans for UNC’s staff. The staff has signed eight offensive linemen the past two classes and are adding two more this year. UNC returns their entire offensive line next season, but depth is crucial in the we all saw against Notre Dame. We covered his commitment way back in March.

Diego Pounds
6-6, 305
Millbrook HS, Raleigh, NC

Rivals: OT, 3-star, NR (national), NR (position), #32 (state)
ESPN: OT, 4-star, #261 (national), #23 (position), #18 (state)
247 Sports (organic): OT, 3-star, NR (national), #37 (position), #27 (state)
247 Sports (composite): OT, 3-star, #472 (national), #42 (position), #25 (state)

Another very large human being, Pounds was UNC’s most recent ESPN 300 commitment of the cycle. Offensive linemen are the most difficult to project and take the longest amount of time to develop, but Pounds was also the 10th offensive line commit since 2019. He’ll be given every opportunity to contribute early. Pounds joined the class in September, adding yet another in-state big man to the front five.