The February 1st National Signing Day, where incoming freshmen can sign their National Letter of Intent and officially become Tar Heels, is just a day away. UNC has nearly 20 players committed to be part of the 2017 class, however, that doesn’t mean everyone is waiting around to enroll.
Any student athlete who has met the educational requirements to graduate from high school are qualified to sign, enroll, and accept financial aid from NCAA schools. This year, the Tar Heels have seven players who have already enrolled into the university, making them officially part of the new class, even if there hasn’t been all the fanfare we will soon see over the next week.
We have covered the team’s four four-star players, including defensive end Jake Lawler, cornerback Tre’ Shaw, defensive tackle Xach Gill, and offensive guard Jonah Melton, but three three-star players have also enrolled early.
Wide receiver J.T. Cauthen had been on UNC’s radar for awhile as evidenced by the five different visits he made to campus dating back to 2015. He committed in January 2016, so this has been a long time coming.
He received offers from East Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee, Wisconsin, including ACC schools like Clemson, Boston College, Duke, NC State, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.
The six-foot-two, 210-pound wide receiver ranks 364 in the national composite and is no. 53 on the list of top wide receivers for the class of 2017. The Waxhaw, North Carolina native also ranks as the ninth-best recruit in the state.
The Tar Heels will need all the help they can get on offense, now that Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard, and Mack Collins have all graduated. Cauthen might not be the first guy up, but he should be an important piece going forward.
At one point, it didn’t look like defensive end Jordon Riley was going to be a Tar Heel. Riley committed to Tennessee in June of 2015 but decommitted a month later. He also received offers from Tennessee, Auburn, East Carolina, South Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, and Duke. North Carolina swooped in and he committed last February.
Riley is a six-foot-six, 292-pound strong side safety from Durham, North Carolina. He ranks no. 507 in the national composite and is ranked at the 16th-best talent from the state. He is also considered the 40th-best defensive tackle in the 2017 class.
Running back Michael Carter was offered by Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida, Louisville, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Tennessee, Virginia before he made his decision. He received an offer from the Tar Heels in April and committed on July 4th.
The five-foot-eight, 191-pound Navarre, Florida native will be an important piece toward replacing Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan. He is the 429th player in the national composite and the seventh-best all-purpose back in his class. Carter is also no. 56 in the list of players from Florida.