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UNC Recruiting: 2022 Five-star DT Travis Shaw commits to Heels

It’s the first time UNC has won a head to head recruiting battle against Clemson.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

UNC football finally added a crown jewel to their 2022 recruiting class. On Saturday, five-star defensive tackle Travis Shaw verbally committed to the Tar Heels. The announcement came during a ceremony at Grimsley High School.

The recruiting services are still trying to work through the evaluation challenges of the last 12 months, but any disagreements over Shaw’s potential are nothing more than quibbles. He holds a five-star ranking from Rivals and 247Sports, and is also a consensus top-20 player in the nation. Shaw is also a consensus top-10 defensive tackle/lineman and the #1 player in North Carolina. Enjoy the recruiting numbers below. (Note: 247Sports have changed their positions for rankings. They now list “Defensive Lineman” and “Edge” instead of “Defensive Tackle” or “Defensive End”.)

Rivals: DT, 5-star, #3 (national), #2 (position), #1 (state)
ESPN: DT, 4-star, #18 (national), #3 (position), #1 (state)
247 Sports (organic): DL, 4-star, #5 (national), #4 (position), #1 (state)
247 Sports (composite): DL, 5-star, #4 (national), #2 (position), #1 (state)

Listed at 6-5 and 310 pounds, Shaw plays high school ball at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC. This past spring he helped anchor the defense and lead Grimsley to the North Carolina 4-A State title. In 10 games as a junior, Shaw accumulated 84 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 16 hurries (per MaxPreps). During a 13-game sophomore campaign, he totaled 104 tackles, 16 TFLs, 11 sacks, and 19 hurries. UNC is clearly adding another playmaker to an already young, stacked defensive line.

Chris Singletary of 247Sports provided this analysis earlier this month.

Shaw is a thick built player with a powerful lower half. Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 330 pounds he is still athletic enough to play all over the defensive line with great production. He is light on his feet and makes plays off the edge and the interior. With his power and bull rush he does an excellent job pushing the pocket and causing disruption. Shaw is has excellent awareness and is able to read and react on plays that are away from him, chasing them down from the backside. He has good flexibility in his hips and he can drop his weight and turn the corner when rushing the passer. He has to continue to work on playing with a low pad level and utilizing his hands when he gets off blocks, along with adding pass rusher moves to his game. Shaw brings athleticism not normally seen in a player his size, that makes for his upside to being off the charts and him projecting to being a Power Five starter for multiple years. I think that he projects as an All Conference player with the chance of being a 1st round pick in the NFL Draft.

Heading into the 2021 season, UNC has 12 defensive linemen listed on their roster. Due to the “COVID year”, eight of those are underclassmen. Five of those eight were four or five-star recruits. Shaw is just the latest addition to a completely revamped defensive unit that should be absolutely dominant by the time he arrives.

Acknowledging the caveats that recruits look good on paper and it’s impossible to project future production, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of Shaw’s commitment. Per the 247Sports composite rating system, if Shaw stepped on campus today, he would be the second-highest rated recruit for UNC in the internet era. (Essentially since 2000). With a currently rating of .9972, only Marvin Austin was more highly rated at .9979.

Most importantly, it’s the first time in recent history that UNC has beaten Clemson for a highly coveted player. Over the past decade, the Tigers have ravaged North Carolina’s best talent in their march to becoming a national powerhouse and they hoped Shaw would be the most recent addition to that long line of talent. After a few close calls since his return(Trenton Simpson last December and Daylen Everette last month), Mack Brown’s staff finally got a notable win in a contested recruiting battle on the national scene.

Shaw is just the fourth in-state recruit of this cycle for the Heels and 13th overall commit. He is also the seventh ESPN 300 recruit. Since Brown returned in 2019, he has signed or received commitments from 43 in-state players and 27 ESPN 300 recruits.