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5-star DE Keeshawn Silver verbally commits to UNC

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The in-state recruit is the sixth commit for 2021.

NCAA Football: Miami at North Carolina Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

UNC football’s recruiting momentum that saw them receive four commitments over a 21-day span, was briefly halted by a NCAA-mandated “dead period” the past few weeks. Late Tuesday night, that momentum returned with a vengeance with the commitment of their fourth ESPN 300 recruit for 2021. ESPN’s #10 prospect in the entire nation, defensive lineman Keeshawn Silver, has verbally committed to the Tar Heels.

The five-star prospect plays for Rocky Mount High School in Rocky Mount, NC. Currently a junior, he recently shot up the rankings after both ESPN and 247 Sports conducted their post-season reviews. Now considered a top-5 in-state talent by both those services, Silver also slots into the state’s #2 overall defensive player and the #1 defensive end. Rivals will begin updating their evaluations after the upcoming spring camps and showcases.

Rivals: SDE, 3-stars, NR (national), #19 (position), #12 (state)
ESPN: DE, 5-stars, #10 (national), #3 (position), #2 (state)
247 Sports (organic): SDE, 4-stars, #33 (national), #3 (position), #2 (state)
247 Sports (composite): SDE, 4-stars, #107 (national), #8 (position), #5 (state)

Trailing only Payton Page as North Carolina’s second-best high school overall defensive player in the junior class, Silver’s commitment adds to the embarrassment of riches that Mack Brown is accumulating in the trenches. Helping anchor the line at Rocky Mount High School, Silver was credited with 47 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks. With another year to develop and showcase his skills at camps and in games, Silver will have the opportunity to cement himself in the upper-echelon of top recruits. Considering his top-tier athleticism, he’s a classic example of a high-floor/high-ceiling recruit.

As a sophomore at last April’s The Opening Regional camp, Silver measured at 6-5 and 236-pounds. Despite that size, he still ran 4.96s 40-yard dash, 4.60s shuttle run, and recorded a 35.40-inch vertical. For context, N.C. State 2020 commit Porter Rooks, who was measured at 6-1 and 191 pounds at the same event, clocked a 4.70s 40-yard dash, 4.33s shuttle run, and a 33.90-inch vertical leap.

Those may seem like some noticeable differences, until you realize Rooks is a wide receiver and listed at 40 pounds lighter. With an additional year to develop before even stepping foot on campus, it’s ok to get excited about Silver’s potential. Regardless, it’s a safe assumption that Jay Bateman will find a way to put Silver’s raw athleticism in successful match-ups along the front seven when he eventually arrives at UNC.

Silver chose the Tar Heels despite holding offers from Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, and Arkansas, among others. He is the first defensive lineman to commit to the Heels in this recruiting cycle. Considering this staff’s constant empshasis on the defensive line in Jay Bateman’s hybrid scheme, it’s safe to assume that he won’t be the last.

The Tar Heels now have six commitments for the class of 2021. All six commitments are from North Carolina. UNC now has verbal commitments from five of North Carolina’s top-15 players according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings.

As mentioned earlier, Silver is also UNC’s fourth ESPN 300 recruit for this cycle. They had six ESPN 300 recruits in the 2020 class.

North Carolina will look to add to that total before the spring game on April 18th.