High school football seasons across the country are just ending and basketball seasons are beginning, which makes the beginning-middle of December a very interesting time for recruiting: the former sport’s Early Signing Day, which has become the de facto Signing Day for all but a handful of elite prospects, is next Wednesday, and coaches across the country are putting the finishing touches on the bulks of their classes. In basketball, college final exams give coaches the rare opportunity to travel during the season if they want, which really gets the next cycle of recruiting going. There’s some news for UNC on both ends, so let’s get to recapping it:
- While UNC’s got a 16-man class set to sign next Wednesday that would be enough to celebrate in its own right (more on that in a second), the Heels’ staff hasn’t been content to let that be the end of its 2022 class. After Justin Fuente was let go at Virginia Tech, there was apparently some initial mutual interest between the Heels and Benji Gosnell, four-star tight end prospect from Pilot Mountain and younger brother of current UNC wide receiver Stephen. Brian Dohn of 247 actually made a Crystal Ball prediction for Gosnell to flip to UNC in late November, before things seemingly cooled on both sides — Dohn’s Crystal Ball for Gosnell now points to the Hokies again as of December 4th.
- UNC’s also apparently been after Will Hardy, a three-star safety who’d committed to UVA, now that Bronco Mendenhall has decided to step down from his post in Charlottesville. There’s apparently an official visit planned, scanning some headlines, but any other information is behind a paywall.
- Some stats about UNC’s currently committed class ahead of next week’s Signing Day: right now, it ranks 8th in the country and 1st in the ACC, with fewer players than anybody ahead of the Heels. Its average player rating ranks 6th, with 2 five-star players and a whopping 9 four-star players helping bolster that. In an aberration for Mack Brown’s second regime, just four of its players are from the state of North Carolina, where talent was overall lower this year than most — the dominant state in this class is Virginia, sending 7 of its finest to Chapel Hill if all goes according to plan. Given coaching turnover at both of the Commonwealth’s ACC schools, it’s a good year to have put some recruiting roots in Virginia.
UNC Football 2022 Commitments
|Zach Rice||OT||6'6||282||5-star||1||Liberty Christian Academy||Lynchburgh, VA||Verbal|
|Travis Shaw||DL||6'5||310||5-star||2||Grimsley||Greensboro, NC||Verbal|
|George Pettaway||RB||5'11||190||4-star||8||Nansemond-Suffolk||Suffolk, VA||Verbal|
|Andre Greene Jr||WR||6'3||185||4-star||9||St. Christopher's School||Richmond, VA||Verbal|
|Malaki Hamrick||OLB/Edge||6'4||205||4-star||12||Shelby||Shelby, NC||Verbal|
|Omarion Hampton||RB||6'0||215||4-star||12||Cleveland||Clayton, NC||Verbal|
|Sebastian Cheeks||LB||6'3||210||4-star||15||Evanston Township||Evanston, IL||Verbal|
|Beau Atkinson||DE/Edge||6'6||240||4-star||18||Leesville Road||Raleigh, NC||Verbal|
|Tayon Holloway||CB||5'11||170||4-star||23||Green Run||Virginia Beach, VA||Verbal|
|Tychaun Chapman||WR||5'10||160||4-star||24||Princess Anne||Virginia Beach, VA||Verbal|
|Marcus Allen||DB||6'2||165||4-star||31||Walton||Marietta, GA||Verbal|
|Bryson Jennings||DE/Edge||6'6||235||3-star||23||Clover Hill||Midlothian, VA||Verbal|
|Connor Harrell||QB||6'1||189||3-star||42||Thompson||Alabaster, AL||Verbal|
|Trevyon Green||OT||6'7||338||3-star||56||Life Christian Academy||Colonial Heights, VA||Verbal|
|Deuce Caldwell||LB||6'1||210||3-star||76||Mauldin||Mauldin, SC||Verbal|
|Justin Kanyuk||OT||6'5||290||3-star||90||Bethlehem Catholic||Bethlehem, PA||Verbal|
- The name to watch here is still G.G. Jackson, who a lot of UNC fans (and possibly the staff as well, given how aggressively they’ve recruited) have been expecting to commit at basically any point in the last month and change, since he visited at UNC’s Late Night event. Since then, he’s scheduled and backed off a visit to Virginia, unofficially visited the program in his backyard (South Carolina), and has mentioned wanting to visit Duke at some point. If I had to guess, as strong as the buzz between him and UNC is, this feels like a recruit doing his due diligence and giving the rest of the world a chance to really wow him before making a decision. South Carolina, as the hometown program, is certainly a threat, but if even half the aforementioned buzz is legit, I think I’d rather be on UNC’s side of things than anywhere else.
- By contrast, anything connecting UNC’s coaches and other 2023 prospects is notable in its absence. I suppose they’re spending most of their effort on Jackson, and I expect that having him versus not would change where the staff focuses next as far as position — having Jackson means you can look at your favored wing target among J.J. Taylor, Matas Buzelis, and company, while not having him means you have to identify another big man you like. Still, you’d hope that they’re maintaining significant enough contact with the players they’ve offered, especially at positions of want/need.
- Robert Dillingham, once expected to be UNC’s early crown jewel for this class, has committed to N.C. State. UNC had backed off of him a while ago following his announced transfer to Kanye West’s Donda Academy and some weirdness/family drama that I am neither able nor willing to get into, and have fulfilled their need for a point guard in this class with Simeon Wilcher, but it’s still notable.
UNC Basketball 2023 Commitments
|Simeon Wilcher||CG||6'4||185||5-star||14||Roselle Catholic||Roselle, NJ||Verbal|
UNC Basketball 2023 Offers
|Mackenzie Mgbako||SF||6'7||185||5-star||3||Gill St. Bernard's School||Gladstone, NJ|
|JJ Taylor||SF||6'8||185||5-star||5||Donda Academy||Simi Valley, CA|
|GG Jackson||PF||6'8||210||5-star||10||Ridge View||Columbia, SC|
|Matas Buzelis||SF||6'10||175||5-star||12||Brewster Academy||Wolfeboro, NH|
|Isaiah Collier||PG||6'3||180||5-star||19||Wheeler||Marietta, GA|
|London Johnson||PG||6'4||165||4-star||25||Norcross||Norcross, GA|