Despite racking up 15 in-state recruits in the 2021 class, UNC had not received a verbal pledge from a North Carolina recruit for the 2022 cycle. That changed on Friday afternoon when outside linebacker Malaki Hamrick committed to the Heels. He made the announcement during a ceremony at his school.
Without a fall season, highlights and game tape are limited for the junior. Regardless, all three recruiting services are currently impressed. A consensus four-star recruit, Hamrick is currently considered a top-10 prospect in the state. His current rankings should excite Tar Heel fans.
Rivals: OLB, 4-star, #135 (national), #14 (position), #5 (state)
ESPN: OLB, 4-star, #223 (national), #22 (position), #7 (state)
247 Sports (organic): OLB, 4-star, #128 (national), #10 (position), #4 (state)
247 Sports (composite): OLB, 4-star, #150 (national), #12 (position), #5 (state)
Currently measured at 6-4, 200 lbs, Hamrick plays high school ball at Shelby High School in Shelby, North Carolina. As a sophomore, he was credited with 129 tackles (64 solo), 39 tackles for loss, and 19 sacks. He added an interception, fumble recovery, and two blocked punts along the way. His production was a major reason Shelby won the 2019 North Carolina 2A state championship. The upcoming season in North Carolina is likely to be a little unorthodox, so a repeat or improvement on those numbers are to be determined. Nonetheless, UNC is clearly getting a major in-state talent early in this cycle.
With COVID extending some college careers and influx of projected NFL talent in the past three recruiting cycles, it’s hard to know just who exactly will be on UNC’s roster by the time Hamrick gets to campus. There are currently just two seniors who must graduate next season — graduate seniors Tomon Fox and Tyrone Hopper. Both players opted to use the extra year granted by the NCAA due to COVID. Senior Jeremiah Gemmell is expected to graduate, but technically has the option to come back, also due to COVID essentially “freezing” this year’s eligibility.
Even with those losses, a deep, talented, experienced roster will compete for three openings in the middle of Jay Bateman’s defense. Hamrick will have opportunities to see the field, but with another year of development and 20 months before his first potential college game, any projections are nothing more than best guesses, hopes, and wishes.
Hamrick is the fourth UNC recruit this cycle, but just the first from North Carolina. The other three hail from North Carolina’s northern neighbor Virginia. Three-star offensive tackle Treyvon Green committed last month. Four-star cornerback Tayon Holloway gave the Heels a Christmas present. Four-star wide receiver Tychaun Chapman was the first UNC recruit of the cycle a week prior to that.
UNC now has three ESPN 300 recruits for the 2022 class.