After Jared Wilson flipped back to Georgia in July, UNC was left with a offensive lineman-sized hole in its 2021 recruiting class. That void is now filled after offensive tackle Diego Pounds verbally committed to the Tar Heels. On Friday afternoon, Pounds verbally committed to the Tar Heels. The announcement came via Instagram.
The in-state prospect plays for Millbrook High School in Raleigh, NC. A rising senior, Pounds is a consensus top-5 offensive lineman in the state of North Carolina. The three main recruiting services have some minor disagreements on his current overall standing, but offensive lineman are notoriously hard to evaluate and COVID canceled the majority of spring and summer camps. With high school football in North Carolina currently postponed until the spring, and with so many high school players opting out of the season, any future rankings changes are arguably pointless. Here are his current evaluations.
Rivals: OT, 3-stars, NR (national), #NR (position), #32 (state)
ESPN: OT, 4-stars, #355 (national), #23 (position), #17 (state)
247 Sports (organic): OT, 3-stars, #NR (national), #36 (position), #27 (state)
247 Sports (composite): OT, 3-stars, #439 (national), #39 (position), #26 (state)
The 6-6, 305-pound lineman was always on UNC’s radar, but the Heels’ current roster lists 17 underclassmen on the offensive line. This year’s starting quintet lacks a single senior. Space, obviously, was limited. But, recruiting is always fluid and never ends. When Wilson flip-flopped back to Georgia, both roster space and an urgent need at the position converged. As they have so often, the coaching staff quickly built (rebuilt?) the relationship and closed the deal.
Pounds’ commitment is another important piece to UNC’s overhaul in the trenches, most notably by adding size and length to the exterior of the line. This season, just 4 of the Heels’ 23 offensive linemen were listed at 6-6 or taller. Jordan Tucker (JR), Marcus McKethan (JR), and walk-on Jake Setterlind (SO) were all listed at between 6-6 and 6-7. Wisdom Asaboro (RS-FR), originally recruited as a defensive lineman, is listed at 6-8. (Some of the 2020 recruits seemingly shrunk when they got to college. Weird how that works).
Pounds is UNC’s 17th recruit of the cycle, and the eighth on the offensive side of the ball. Of those 17 recruits, 14 are from North Carolina. That ties a program record in the internet-era. UNC’s other offensive lineman, Eli Sutton from Tennessee, committed in March. It’s not hard to spot the points of emphasis for this coaching staff.
The future Tar Heel picked UNC over offers from a plethora of top programs, including Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Penn State.
UNC currently owns a consensus top-15 class for 2021. The reclassification of Tony Grimes to 2020, and a small class of just 17 prospects (so far), has led to a dip in the rankings. It’s nothing to worry about.
Of their 17 commitments, 16 hold a four-star ranking from at least one of the major scouting services. With Tony Grimes’ reclassification to 2020, Keeshawn Silver is now UNC’s “only” five-star recruit for this class. Dropping from a top-5 class to a top-15 class is a good problem to have at this point in Mack Brown’s resurgence.
Pounds is the 11th ESPN 300 recruit to commit to UNC in the 2021 class. That is also a program record.