In December, most fans thought UNC was done adding players to its highly regarded recruiting class for 2021. With 18 players committed and signed, the mission was accomplished. Today, cornerback Dontae Balfour became the 19th member of that class. He made the announcement during a ceremony at his high school.
The four-star CB out of Starke, Florida, played his high school ball at Bradford High School. A head coaching change at Auburn and a strong senior season put him back on UNC’s radar. Due to the COVID-nature of the season, the main recruiting services are split on his rankings, but all consider him a top-75 player in the talent-rich state of Florida. Here are his overall numbers:
Rivals: CB, 3-star, NR (national), #42 (position), #70 (state)
ESPN: CB, 3-star, #NR (national), #27 (position), #66 (state)
247 Sports (organic): CB, 4-star, #233 (national), #17 (position), #31 (state)
247 Sports (composite): CB, 3-star, #441 (national), #33 (position), #67 (state)
Attrition unexpectedly hit the defensive backfield throughout the season. A combination of transfers and graduation departures placed a renewed emphasis on adding another cornerback. Balfour now steps into that spot, joining Tymir Brown, Dontavius Nash, and DeAndre Boykins as incoming freshmen in UNC’s secondary. All four recruits hold a four-star ranking from at least one of Rivals, 247 Sports, or ESPN. (We’ll just call that the Dre Bly effect).
Standing at 6-2, 170 lbs Balfour brings some size and range to the outside boundary. Fortunate to play 11 games in his senior season, he recorded 4 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery and 77 tackles in 11 games. He added 25 receptions for 368 yards and 2 touchdowns as a wide receiver. (All stats courtesy of MaxPreps).
After years of frustration and sub-par performances, UNC’s secondary evolved into a strength by the end of the season. Littered with underclassmen like Tony Grimes (FR), Ja’Qurious Conley (FR), Don Chapman (SO), Kyler McMichael (SO), Cam Kelly (SO), and Storm Duck (SO), there is a full blown youth movement underway. Trey Morrison and Patrice Rene were the only upperclassmen defensive backs to take the field last year.
Balfour will add to that young talent next year. He is the 19th commit for next season, and just the fourth recruit not from North Carolina. Eighteen of those recruits hold at least one four-star or five-star evaluation from Rivals, 247 Sports, or ESPN.
He selected the Heels over Auburn and LSU.