With the summer off-season approaching, and players and staff returning to campus, North Carolina’s football program continues to haul in talent. On Friday evening, defensive end Jahvaree Ritzie verbally committed to the Tar Heels. He is the Heels’ 16th recruit for this cycle, but just the second defensive lineman. The announcement was streamed via multiple UNC-centric outlets on YouTube.
The consensus four-star prospect plays for Glenn High School in Kernersville, NC where he is also teammates with current UNC commit Raneiria Dillworth. The rising senior is considered a top-10 in-state talent by Rivals and 247 Sports, while ESPN is a little slower to match the other recruiting services. Check out his overall ratings at this moment in time.
Rivals: SDE, 4-stars, #128 (national), #9 (position), #7 (state)
ESPN: DE, 4-stars, #NR (national), #33 (position), #21 (state)
247 Sports (organic): SDE, 4-stars #63 (national), #5 (position), #4 (state)
247 Sports (composite): SDE, 4-stars #142 (national), #12 (position), #7 (state)
A 6’4, 265-pound end rusher, Ritzie continues North Carolina’s recent trends of acquiring commitments from top-end talent in the front seven. After a haul in 2020 that saw UNC welcome the top three defensive linemen in North Carolina, Ritzie’s decision is just another brick in Mack Brown’s Jay Bateman’s foundation for an eventual elite defense. He joins Keeshawn Silver, a fellow -in-state product and ESPN’s #8 overall recruit for 2021, who committed to the Heels in March. Whether or not Ritzie puts his hand in the dirt or stands up off the edge remains to be seen, but that’s a conversation for another time. As we’ve seen this staff do since they took over, he’ll will be placed in a position to best utilize his talents.
Prior to his junior year at last April’s The Opening Regional camp, Ritzie recorded 5.13 40-yard dash, 4.94 shuttle run, and a 31.5 max vertical. As a junior, Ritzie accumulated 74 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, and 15 QB hurries. He also recovered a fumble and blocked a punt. If those abilities to get into the offensive backfield translate to the college game, UNC fans can look forward to a return to dominant defensive front lines that UNC was known for in the late 90’s.
Ritzie is UNC’s 16h recruit for 2021, and the seventh on the defensive side of the ball. Of those 16 recruits, 14 are from North Carolina, including Ritzie. That ties the program record for most in-state recruits since the turn of the century, and equals last year’s total. According to the 247 Sports Composite, UNC has now received verbal commitments from 13 of the state’s top-25 recruits and 6 of the top-10.
In three recruiting classes since returning to Chapel Hill, Mack Brown has now signed or received verbal commitments from 38 in-state recruits (10 in 2019, 14 in 2020 and 2021). For context, Larry Fedora signed 44 in seven season, Butch Davis signed 49 in five seasons, and John Bunting signed 56 in six seasons. Brown’s success this cycle has been buoyed by an uncommonly deep talent pool in North Carolina for 2021.
There are still a small group of targets remaining for UNC, so they will add to this class before the early signing period in December.