Another weekend, another verbal commitment for North Carolina football. And then another verbal commitment for UNC football. On Friday afternoon, outside linebacker Raneiria “Ra Ra” Dillworth verbally committed to the Heels. The announcement came via his Twitter:
Barely a minute later, fellow in-state star Jared Wilson crashed Dillworth's live stream by announcing that he, too, would be suiting up in Chapel Hill in the fall of 2021:
Dillworth is a 6’2, 195-pound linebacker who plays for Glenn High School in Kernersville, NC. A four-star by ESPN and 247 Sports' rankings, Dillworth’s’ commitment is another building block in a completely revamped defense under Mack Brown and Jay Bateman. After signing up to six players in the 2020 class that could possibly play LB or a hybrid LB/DE in Bateman’s scheme, the Heels continue to make that position group a high-priority. His current rankings are listed below.
Rivals: OLB, 3-star, NR (national), #22 (position), #14 (state)
ESPN: OLB, 4-star, #93 (national), #8 (position), #6 (state)
247 Sports (organic): OLB, 4-star, #245 (national), #17 (position), #15 (state)
247 Sports (composite): OLB, 4-Star, #223 (national, #17 (position), #13 (state)
Dillworth chose the Tar Heels despite a late surge from Alabama. He is the 13th verbal commit for 2021, and the 12th from North Carolina.
In Dillworth, UNC is getting a playmaker who will cause havoc all over the field - in run support, pass rush responsibilities, and in coverage. He has a good chance to shore up last year's teams weakness against shallow passes over the middle. The linebacking corps needs more bodies, and Dillworth is the kind of player who can play immediately and play anywhere no matter where Jay Bateman wants to put him in his hybrid defense.
The 6-4, 325-pound Wilson is another important piece to UNC’s overhaul in the trenches, this time on the offensive end. Last year’s roster listed 21 offensive lineman, but only 14 were scholarship athletes. Just 3 of those 21 were upperclassman. Despite that youth, Mack’s crew signed four more offensive lineman this past recruiting cycle. After last year’s constant injury-riddled roulette wheel in front of Sam Howell, it’s hard to fault that logic. In a recent teleconference, OC Phil Longo discussed some of those challenges, while expressing optimism for the upcoming season (whenever that takes place).
Formerly committed to the Georgia Bulldogs, Wilson retracted that pledge when offensive line coach Sam Pittman left Athens to take the head coaching job at Arkansas.
The ESPN 300 and borderline four-star prospect plays for West Forsyth High School in Clemmons, NC. Currently a junior, he is considered a top-20 in-state talent by both 247 Sports and ESPN. Check out his overall ratings at this moment in time. Rankings often fluctuate between the junior and senior seasons, so these will almost certainly change.
Rivals: OG, 3-stars, NR (national), #NR (position), #32 (state)
ESPN: OG, 4-stars, #228 (national), #9 (position), #15 (state)
247 Sports (organic): OG, 3-stars, NR(national), #17 (position), #20 (state)
247 Sports (composite): OG, 3-stars, #385 (national), #21 (position), #22 (state)
The big takeaway there is that even with a #387 ranking in the 247 Sports Composite, Wilson is still only considered the #22 athlete in the state. That ranking in the 2020 class would have placed him at #16. The 2021 class in North Carolina is absolutely loaded, so recruits may find themselves 5-10 spots lower than they would most other years.
Sticking with the 247 Sports Composite, in 2020, the top 15 players in the state were nationally ranked in the top-500. In 2021, the top 27 players in the state make that cut, with a year of evaluations still remaining. For that reason, the urgency to build momentum for next December cannot be overstated. The staff’s aggression has been rewarded as Wilson is the 14th recruit to verbally commit. Thirteen of those recruits are from North Carolina, and 11 of them are in ESPN's top 300 for the class - the program's previous record for ESPN300 recruits in a class was 6, set last year. UNC's early aggression has them listed as the nation's 2nd best class of 2021.