Here's an inside look at UNC 's 2014 recruiting class.
Head Coach: Larry Fedora
Total Number of Expected Signees: 22
Previous National Recruiting Rankings:
Rivals.com: No. 42 (2002), No. 13 (2003), No. 44 (2004), No. 44 (2005), No. 30 (2006) under John Bunting; No. 17 (2007), No. 32 (2008), No. 9 (2009), No. 29 (2010), No. 16 (2011) under Butch Davis; No. 44 (2012), No. 42 (2013) under Larry Fedora
Scout.com: No. 35 (2002), No. 13 (2003), No. 18 (2004), No. 34 (2005), No. 25 (2006) under Bunting; No. 14 (2007), No. 30 (2008), No. 6 (2009), No. 31 (2010), No. 21 (2011) under Davis; No. 41 (2012), No. 29 (2013) under Fedora.
247Sports.com: No. 19 (2011) under Davis; No. 43 (2012), No. 28 (2013) under Fedora
ACC Rankings (Rivals.com): No. 8 (2002), No. 3 (2003), No. 6 (2004), No. 9 (2005), No. 6 (2006), No. 2 (2007), No. 7 (2008), No. 2 (2009), No. 5 (2010), No. 3 (2011), No. 7 (2012), No. 8 (2013)
2014 North Carolina ACC & National Rankings By Network
ESPN: No. 6 (No. 32 overall)
Rivals.com: No. 4 (No. 23 overall)
Scout.com: No. 5 (No. 31 overall)
247Sports.com: No. 5 (No. 29 overall)
Signee Breakdown by Star Rating:
Rivals.com: Five Stars (1), Four Stars (4), Three Stars (16), Two Stars (1)
Scout.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (5), Three Stars (17), Two Stars (0)
247Sports.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (3), Three Stars (19), Two Stars (0)
States Represented (6): North Carolina (9), Georgia (5), Virginia (5), Florida (1), Maryland (1), Ohio (1), Tennessee (1)
January (Spring Semester) Enrollees: Allen Artis, Brandon Fritts, Elijah Hood, Bentley Spain, Marvin Stewart
Unconfirmed Academics: Tyrell Tomlin
Breakdown by Position: Defensive Backs (4), Defensive Linemen (4), Linebackers (3), Wide Receivers (3), Offensive Linemen (3), Tight Ends (2), Quarterbacks (1), Running Backs (1), Kickers (1)
In terms of both quantity and quality, this was an outstanding recruiting class for Tar Heel wide receivers coach (and newly-named co-offensive coordinator) Gunter Brewer. He deserves the lion’s share of the credit for Carolina’s impressive haul in Charlotte, as UNC continues to make that one of its single-biggest recruiting territories in the Fedora regime (after it had fallen off there in the latter years under Butch Davis).
The Tar Heels are signing a total of five Charlotte natives this year and Brewer played a role in recruiting all of them. It was Brewer who got Olympic High defensive lineman Robert Dinkins to visit Chapel Hill for the very first ‘Fedora’s Freak Show’ summer camp event in Kenan Stadium in the summer of 2012---prior to his junior season---where Dinkins became the first Class of 2014 commitment for the Heels. At last year’s spring game in mid-April the Tar Heels got another pledge from a Brewer-recruited prospect, as linebacker target Cayson Collins committed to UNC out of Charlotte’s Phillip O. Berry Academy. It was Brewer who continued to pursue Elijah Hood aggressively when it appeared there might be a door open for UNC despite his commitment to Notre Dame. Hood’s switch to the Tar Heels in late August was the dramatic climax of a huge recruiting run for Brewer in mid-summer, as he helped Carolina land Rivals 250 offensive tackle Bentley Spain and playmaking wide receiver Austin Proehl, a pair of teammates at Charlotte’s Providence High School. Brewer also played a significant role in the late addition of Memphis (Tenn.) wide receiver Devin Perry.
It’s also worth mentioning Walt Bell, who was UNC’s recruiting coordinator prior to Carolina’s Belk Bowl victory December 28 over Cincinnati. Bell aided in North Carolina’s pursuit of multiple prospects in northern Virginia and suburban Atlanta before leaving UNC to join Blake Anderson’s staff at Arkansas State.
10 Key Misses
Davidson (N.C.) quarterback Will Grier (Florida), Chesapeake (Va.) defensive tackle Andrew Brown (Virginia), Greensboro (N.C.) linebacker Chris Register (Clemson), Raleigh (N.C.) wide receiver/athlete Braxton Berrios (Miami), Greensboro (N.C.) defensive end Lorenzo Featherston (Florida State), Durham (N.C.) wide receiver Trevion Thompson (Clemson), Virginia Beach (Va.) defensive back Quin Blanding (Virginia), Mechanicsville (Va.) offensive lineman Alec Eberle (Florida State), Chester (Va) defensive back C.J. Reavis (Virginia Tech), Swansboro (N.C.) running back/wide receiver De’Andre Thompkins (Penn State)
North Carolina Recruiting Storylines:
- 2014 is the last of three recruiting cycles in which North Carolina is limited in the amount of scholarship players that they could accept. While everyone else in the Atlantic Coast Conference not under any kind of NCAA probation is allowed to enroll a maximum of 25 scholarship players each recruiting cycle and have 85 players on scholarship each August in training camp, UNC’s 15 scholarship reductions over three years (2012 through 2014 recruiting classes) created a situation in which the Tar Heels could sign only enroll 20 scholarship freshmen each summer, while having a total of 80 on scholarship. The Tar Heels were able to count one of its five January enrollees this year towards the 2013 scholarship numbers, allowing them to bring in a total of 21 players who could count towards the program’s 80-scholarship limit come training camp in August 2014.
- UNC used its limited scholarship numbers somewhat to its advantage, locking up the overwhelming majority of its 2014 signing class in the summer of 2013 before its own season began. The Tar Heels had six commitments by the end of April but starting June 10, when Carolina landed Woodstock (Ga.) defensive back Ayden Bonilla and Midlothian (Va.) defensive end Tyler Powell on the same day, UNC landed a total of 14 commitments over the next two and a half months, including consensus five-star running back Elijah Hood, who switched from Notre Dame to the Tar Heels in late August. Carolina sat at 20 commitments for nearly five months before landing another addition, Memphis (Tenn.) wide receiver Devin Perry, in mid-January.
- Wide receivers coach (and newly named UNC co-offensive coordinator) Gunter Brewer took advantage of some relationships he made during his own collegiate career and his earliest days of coaching to help secure a couple key commitments this cycle for the Tar Heels - Austin Proehl and Allen Artis. Brewer played at Wake Forest - he was a two-year letter winner for the Demon Deacons in 1985 and 1986 under Al Groh - and served as a graduate assistant under new Wake coach Bill Dooley in Winston-Salem in 1987. He played one season (1986) at Wake Forest with former Wake Forest star Ricky Proehl, the school’s all-time leading receiver, whose son Austin emerged as an ACC-caliber recruit out of Charlotte’s Providence High School. Proehl received offers from his father’s alma mater as well as Virginia Tech and was prepared to choose between either the Demon Deacons or Hokies prior to receiving an offer from the Tar Heels last July and committing to UNC shortly thereafter. During his time as a graduate assistant coach with the Demon Deacons in 1987 Brewer worked with running back Johnny Artis, whose son Allen chose the Tar Heels in late June. A defensive back out of Wheeler High School in Marietta (Ga.), Artis also had an offer from Wake Forest as well as Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, N.C. State, and many others. Artis, a January enrollee, will have a chance to make an immediate impact in the Tar Heel secondary in 2014.
- After going two full recruiting classes (2010 and 2011) without signing a single prospect from the state of Georgia, North Carolina has significantly improved its recruiting efforts in this important state under Larry Fedora and his staff. The Tar Heels have deemed Georgia (and specifically Atlanta) as one of its three primary recruiting territories, and they’ve gotten results from their efforts. UNC landed four Georgians in Fedora’s first UNC recruiting cycle (2012), with three of them pledging to Carolina after Fedora’s arrival, and then in 2013 they got three more, including two immediate contributors---wide receiver Johnathan Howard and defensive end Mikey Bart. Six of the seven 2012 and 2013 signees saw playing time for North Carolina at some point during the 2013 season (true freshman redshirt Donnie Miles was the only exception). UNC adds five more Georgia natives in the 2014 cycle (Allen Artis, Cameron Albright, Ayden Bonilla, Caleb Samuel, Tyrell Tomlin), making a grand total of 12 Peach State natives to sign with North Carolina in the two-plus years since Fedora arrived.
A Closer Look At ...
Elijah Hood, RB (5-11, 220) Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 4 running back, No. 1 in North Carolina, No. 30 overall nationally)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 10 running back, No. 1 in North Carolina, No. 55 overall nationally)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 8 running back, No. 2 in North Carolina, No. 78 overall nationally)
Lead Recruiter(s): Gunter Brewer, Walt Bell, Randy Jordan
When Fedora arrived at UNC in the winter of 2012, he and his staff identified a pair of in-state running backs (Hood and Havelock’s Derrell Scott) that they targeted as their top two early prospects in the Class of 2014. While it didn’t work out for the Tar Heels with Scott, UNC’s strong recruiting efforts paid off handsomely when Hood decided to de-commit from Notre Dame, where he initially committed in the spring of 2013. During his senior season at Charlotte Catholic, Hood rushed for a state-high 3,690 yards---a Mecklenburg County record and the second-highest single-season total in state history (behind only West Rowan’s Kevin Parks (a rising senior at Virginia), who ran for 3,794 yards in 2009. Hood rushed for over 7,900 yards over his final three years of high school (2011 to 2013), leading Charlotte Catholic to a NCHSAA 3-AA state title game appearance his junior season (2012) and two West Regional championship game (state semifinal) appearances in 2011 and 2013. Following his senior season Hood played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, as well as the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Bentley Spain OT (6-6, 285) Charlotte (N.C.) Providence
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 14 offensive tackle, No. 4 in North Carolina, No. 162 overall nationally)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 10 offensive tackle, No. 6 in North Carolina, No. 159 overall nationally)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 8 offensive tackle, No. 3 in North Carolina, No. 104 overall nationally)
Lead Recruiter(s): Chris Kapilovic, Gunter Brewer
North Carolina beat out Pac-12 champion Stanford for the services of Spain, an excellent student who will have a chance as a January enrollee to compete right away for the UNC left tackle spot left vacant with the recent departure of four-year starter James Hurst. Spain was a multi-year starter at Charlotte’s Providence High school, where in 2013 he teamed with fellow UNC signee Austin Proehl to help the Panthers average just under 27 points per game amidst some of the toughest prep competition in the state of North Carolina. Providence went 8-5 in 2013 and advanced to the NCHSAA 4-AA state playoffs, where they lost in the second round to the eventual state champions from Charlotte’s Mallard Creek High School. Spain was selected to participate in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, but was unable to play as he had to complete a certain number of school days in the fall semester in order to be able to graduate from high school in December and enroll at UNC in January. He did participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in Texas after the first of the year, just days before enrolling at UNC.
Caleb Henderson, QB (6-4, 225) Burke (Va.) Lake Braddock
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 13 pro-style quarterback, No. 8 in Virginia, No. 240 overall nationally)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 9 quarterback, No. 9 in Virginia, No. 157 overall nationally)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 14 pro-style quarterback, No. 9 in Virginia)
Lead Recruiter(s): Blake Anderson
Henderson had to wait a little longer than some other Class of 2014 prospects to get a scholarship offer from the Tar Heels, due to former UNC offensive coordinator Blake Anderson’s policy of personally evaluating quarterbacks before extending offers. But once Anderson got a chance to see the Rivals 250 signal-caller in action, he was quick to let Henderson know he wanted him. The Virginia native picked UNC in April, choosing the Tar Heels over Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami Boston College, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, West Virginia, and others. Henderson stayed loyal to the Tar Heels after Anderson’s decision to leave UNC for the head coach job at Arkansas state, and Carolina’s subsequent hiring of former Indiana offensive coordinator Seth Littrell to replace him. Henderson produced over 2,300 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns for Lake Braddock High as a junior in 2012, while as a senior he had over 2,800 all-purpose yards (including over 2,400 passing yards) and 29 touchdowns, leading the Bruins to an undefeated regular season and a 13-1 overall record in 2013 before falling in the Virginia High School League (NHSL) Class 6A state quarterfinals. Henderson was selected along with future UNC teammates Elijah Hood, Bentley Spain, Freeman Jones, and Corbin Daly to play in the U.S. Army All-American bowl in January in Texas.
Why They Chose North Carolina
“I love the coaching staff. Love the facilities and everything like that. And on top of that, it's Chapel Hill. You can't beat a better college life experience there. I'm really looking forward to it. I'd be really blessed if I did get a chance to play early. But I mean, that's everybody's goal. Nobody wants to go in and sit on the bench. So me just like everybody else, we're going to go in, do what we have to do, try and help the team do whatever it takes. I'm going to help the team try and score all the points I can. Whatever field goal or extra point is necessary, kickoffs, try to put it in the end zone.”
---Bunn (N.C.) place kicker Freeman Jones to TarHeelIllustrated.com
“It was tough to decide between (North Carolina and Tennessee). UNC really won me over more and I fit really well in their defensive scheme. I can actually see myself living there for four or five years. I just felt like UNC would be the better place for me. And you know Jeremiah (Clarke) is going there, so it will be great to continue to play with a teammate. I guess it’s good, but (playing with a high school teammate) didn’t affect my decision at all. I think they’re doing a great job as far as recruiting Virginia and they’re having a lot of success in Virginia. They just need to just keep doing what they’re doing and a lot more will come.”
---Alexandria (Va.) linebacker Malik Carney to InsideCarolina.com
“UNC has really been one of my dream schools from early on in this process. It was a pretty big deal when they offered me. It only took me a day or two to think about it, but like I said, they were a big dream school for me, so I wanted to shut it down. The more I thought about it, the more I talked to my parents, I just realized that this was an opportunity that I wanted to grab hold of and it felt right.”
---Midlothian (Va.) defensive lineman Tyler Powell to TarHeelIllustrated.com
“UNC was one of the first schools that I actually fell in love with. From an academic standpoint of the school and the athletic standpoint of the school and all the opportunity they have there, I just felt like it was a good idea for me to commit. Plus, I love the campus, I love all the coaches, I love the area – I fell in love with it from the first time that I visited.”
---Macon (Ga.) offensive lineman Caleb Samuel to InsideCarolina.com