While Mack Brown and UNC have been filling up their 2022 class at a pretty steady rate over the past month, 2022 isn’t the only class they’ve been recruiting. The 2022 class was actually abnormal for not having anybody commit to UNC before their junior years (a global pandemic probably had something to do with that), making it seem like the class was off to a late start for most of the past year. Now, after a year of life in a pandemic that isn’t quite over but that no longer feels like a constant existential threat in the US (this can change very quickly, so please get vaccinated), we’re seeing signs of the life that we left behind, and in this case, that means the commitment of a rising junior to UNC: Tad Hudson, a 4-star quarterback from the suburbs of Charlotte, announced on Sunday night his intentions to play in Chapel Hill after his high school career ends.
Hudson’s been seen at UNC a lot over the past year, with Inside Carolina reporting at least 3 unofficial visits and a camp visit since the start of 2020. Even with offers from places like Auburn, Arkansas, and Michigan State, no other school has really been linked to Hudson because his interest in UNC has been so obvious since he was offered in the fall of 2019 (as a freshman!). He has been on a lot of other schools’ campuses for camps this summer, but it seems like that’s been more about sharpening his skills and raising his profile than about genuine interest in the schools — he attended Tennessee, Florida State, and Clemson’s camps in the past couple months, but doesn’t seem to claim an offer from any of those schools, and it’s not like UNC is recruiting on a lower level than the former two.
On the field, the 6’3, 220-pound Hudson is a big-bodied passer with a big arm to match. His highlight tape is filled with deep throws to either boundary, and his delivery looks easy and variable — he can throw with touch or on a rope depending on what the situation requires. The frequency of deep balls in his offense should lend itself well to what we’ve seen Sam Howell run the past two years; Phil Longo’s offense is always looking for a big play through the air. He seems able and willing to throw with anticipation; there are several examples of him throwing to spots before his receivers either break their routes or stack their defenders (on nine routes). He doesn’t seem to be super mobile at this point in his development; he only has 33 rushing yards and 1 touchdown through 2 years of high school ball. He also has some work to do with his accuracy; in his sophomore year, he completed 55% of his passes for 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, less than a 2:1 ratio. That will be something to keep an eye on in the latter half of his high school career. His high school coach at Hough High seems to believe in him, saying “He’ll be the sixth D1 quarterback that I’ve coached and, at this stage and time, he’s the best one.”
For UNC, Hudson seems like the primary plan for a future beyond the quarterbacks currently on UNC’s roster. He will be a freshman for Drake Maye and/or Jacolby Criswell’s junior years, just as Maye and Criswell will be freshmen (in eligibility terms) for Sam Howell’s junior year. There’s no telling whether Maye or Criswell, whoever ends up with the starting job, will be good enough to leave for the NFL as a two-year starter after their junior year, but that’s what the staff has to assume could happen, and that would leave Hudson, as a sophomore, with the keys to the offense after a full year and two offseasons to have learned to run it, just as Maye will have had a year from now (Criswell, of course, has the extra year thanks to last year’s frozen eligibility). Connor Harrell, UNC’s quarterback commit in the class of 2022, also has to figure into this discussion, but, as a three-star recruit with less impressive arm talent than any of the other four passers we’re discussing, he seems to have been recruited to be a steady backup with upside more so than an heir apparent.
The primary focus of the coaching staff is still the class of 2022, with several of their most prized recruits still uncommitted. But recruiting is a multifaceted process, and it’s good to see the Class of 2023 already getting underway and giving the Heels a jump start on their future. Here’s a fun fact: Hudson’s commitment gives UNC the 11th-ranked recruiting “class” for 2023. Hopefully, that’s just a start.