Prior to the dead period ending earlier this month, UNC football only had four recruits for the 2022 cycle. That was a noticeable difference from Mack Brown’s first two recruiting cycles, when he had the majority of future Tar Heels committed before the end of the summer. COVID precautions halted much of that momentum, but it got a kick start this afternoon when in-state defensive end Beau Atkinson committed to the Heels.
The recruiting services are still trying to worth through the evaluation challenges of the last 12 months, so there are some varying thoughts on Atkinson’s current standing. Regardless, he impressed enough this past spring to receive a scholarship offer just 12 days ago during an official visit. Check out the most recent evaluations. (Note: 247 Sports apparently have changed their positions for rankings. They now list “Defensive Lineman” and “Edge” instead of “Defensive Tackle” or “Defensive End”. Make of that what you will.)
Rivals: WDE, 4-star, #234 (national), #13 (position), #7 (state)
ESPN: DE, 3-star, NR (national), #44 (position), #15 (state)
247 Sports (organic): Edge, 4-star, NR (national), #18 (position), #11 (state)
247 Sports (composite): Edge, 4-star, #360 (national), #19 (position), #11 (state)
Listed at 6-6 and 240 pounds, Atkinson plays high school ball Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, NC. According to MaxPreps, he most recently finished a shortened seven-game spring season, where he accumulated 34 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks. His commitment simply continues UNC’s emphasis in the trenches, where he’ll likely line up as a defensive end and occasional rushing linebacker. In the 2020 and 2021 recruiting cycles, UNC signed eight defensive linemen. Atkinson is the first such commit for 2022.
Of note, if he were to step on campus today (and if that 6-6 measurement is accurate), Atkinson would be the tallest defensive player on UNC’s roster. We’ve noted numerous times over the last year about UNC’s emphasis on size along the offensive line, but they continue to target similar size on the defense line. Redshirt freshman Kedrick Bingley-Jones, and incoming freshmen Keeshawn Silver, and Jahvaree Ritzie are all listed between 6-4 and 6-6. Atkinson continues that trend.
Additionally, Atkinson is just the second in-state recruit (so far!), joining four-star linebacker Malaki Hamrick who committed back in February.
The Heels now have five total commitments for the 2022 cycle; two from North Carolina and three from the Commonwealth of Virginia. More are expected to announce their intentions over the coming summer weeks and months, as the Heels look to maintain their recent dominance on the regional recruiting scene.