Another summer. Another Freak Show. Another recruiting haul for UNC.
In what has become an annual rite of passage at UNC, the Tar Heels hosted their Freak Show this past Saturday night. Jay Exum previewed the event last week and, once again, it lived up to its billing as a fun and energetic recruiting tool.
Current and former players mingle with recruits, and the coaching staff can continue to build relationships in a more relaxed environment than at most other traditional elite camps. It also helps when #2 overall draft pick Mitch Trubisky, as well as 2017 NFL draftees Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins roam the field. It’s not every day that a recruit can play dodgeball with NFL players, which many were able to do on Saturday night.
Often, a few visiting recruits will verbally commit to UNC before the night is over.
In 2015, both DE Tomon Fox and OL Luke Elder verbally committed to the Tar Heels at the event.
Last June, DB Caleb Rozar and OL Brian Anderson did the same.
This summer, the Freak Show has already convinced four recruits to bring their talents to Chapel Hill.
The defensive backfield saw an influx of talent when three of UNC’s targets announced their intentions throughout the day. All three are members of the 2018 recruiting class.
DeAndre Hollins, a 3-star defensive back out of Florida, committed before the Freak Show even began. At six-foot-two and 180 pounds he is sure to help start building depth on the corners of a UNC secondary that will only have three senior defensive backs entering the 2018 season.
UNC beat out Louisville, South Carolina, Army, Tennessee, West Virginia, and perhaps more importantly, ACC Coastal rival Virginia Tech. The most impressive part of this recruitment was how little time it took Hollins to make his decision. He had only held an offer from North Carolina since April. Two months later, he decided Chapel Hill was the place for him.
The next DB to commit was 3-star recruit Trey Morrison, a 5-10, 175 pound cornerback from Norcross Greater Atlanta Christian in Georgia. As with Hollins, he didn’t even wait for the Freak show to officially begin before Larry Fedora tweeted one of his trademark “Heel Yeah!” tweets.
Those tweets are Fedora’s way of letting UNC fans know that the Heels have landed another commitment, without breaking any NCAA rules. NCAA rules forbid coaches to openly talk about recruits until they have signed their Letter of Intent.
Then, just after the event concluded, UNC grabbed a commitment from in-state recruit Javon Terry. Similar to his soon-to-be teammate Hollins, Terry also stands at six-foot-two and 185 pounds, providing some much needed size to UNC’s outside coverage. If they were both on the roster today, they would tie Patrice Rene as the second tallest DBs on North Carolina’s roster.
A member of the 2016 state champions at Wake Forest High School, Terry selected the Heels over in-state competitors Wake Forest, N.C. State, and East Carolina.
Those three commitments means UNC is now at nine verbal commitments for 2017, with many prime targets still available.
Saturday night’s success didn’t stop the coaching staff from looking towards the 2019 class. On Sunday, 4-star defensive end Hakeem Beamon decided to pull the trigger on his scholarship offer from the Heels. At six-foot-four and 235 pounds, the rising high school junior took the night to mull over his experience at Kenan Memorial Stadium. On Sunday, The Lloyd C. Bird High School student from Chesterfield, VA decided to commit to UNC over ACC Coastal rival Virginia Tech.
Four recruits for one weekend is certainly impressive. Adding depth to a secondary that has grown into one of the more dominant position groups in the ACC will help the coaching staff breathe a little easier. However, the biggest takeaway is that every recruit hails from a different state.
Florida (Hollins), Virginia (Beamon), Georgia (Morrison), and North Carolina (Terry) all have ACC rivals within their border. Both Florida and Georgia are also in the heart of SEC country. For UNC to make gains across the southeast on a single weekend is at least worth mentioning. Recruiting is fluid and verbal commitments are easily rescinded, but it points to a promising trend within the UNC football offices.
You have to build a program one brick at a time. The 2017 Freak Show is just the most recent example of the success North Carolina continues to find on the recruiting trail.