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North Carolina

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

Two-Sport Star Impressed By Bunting, Smith

CHAPEL HILL — Jesse Holley nearly crossed UNC off his list early. He liked Virginia after visiting Charlottesville in late November, as the Cavaliers were making plans for a bowl game. It wasn't until Jan. 17 that he was scheduled to visit UNC, which was going nowhere.

But Holley, a basketball guard and football wide receiver who plans to try both sports in college, held off on making a commitment. He said advice from his grandmother, Yvonne Holley, played a role. “She told me, ‘Jesse, just take a visit (to Chapel Hill) and see.'” He listened, and he's glad he did. Holley immediately hit it off with UNC coach John Bunting, and meeting basketball legend Dean Smith might have been the clincher.

“My last meeting was with Coach Bunting, and we were in his office, and (Smith) walked in,” Holley said. “My eyes popped open and my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe it. I was just in awe. I was in shock. After I came back down to reality, we talked. We talked and talked and talked, not just about sports. We talked about life.”

Holley is part of a stellar wide receiver haul for the Tar Heels, joining Mike Mason of Rocky Mount — the MVP of a Nike combine in April — and Adarius Bowman, a two-time Tennessee Mr. Football in Class 2A. Holley had 27 receiving touchdowns at Abraham Clark High in New Jersey, but he spent half of his senior season at quarterback. In basketball, he is the school's career scoring leader, although he is not considered an ACC-caliber player by most recruiting analysts.

Who Got Away?

After only rarely losing its favorite in-state prospects to other North Carolina schools through most of the 1990s, UNC saw that phenomenon erode during the Carl Torbush era and rebound only slightly in recent years. The Tar Heels signed seven of their 13 in-state targets in 2002-03 — not great, not bad — but they lost four of the other six to rival N.C. State: Rocky Mount Northern Nash DE Chad Green, Henderson Southern Vance QB/WR Chris Hawkins, Fayetteville Smith DT DeMarcus Tyler and Richlands High DE Mario Williams. The Williams miss was particularly painful, because it marked the second year in a row (see Virginia DB Willie Davis) in which a prominent player in eastern North Carolina gave an early commitment to another school even before the Heels got around to making their pitch. Here are some of the other prospects who had a scholarship offer from UNC but signed elsewhere: Baltimore (MD) Gilman DE Victor Abiamiri (Notre Dame), Washington (DC) St. John's DT Conrad Bolston (Maryland), Cerritos (CA) Community College LB Justin Burks (Arizona State), Jacksonville (FL) Jackson OL Tripp Carroll (Virginia Tech), Hackensack (NJ) High LB Jermaine Dias (UVa), Raeford (NC) Hoke County QB C.J. Gaddis (Clemson), Chesapeake (VA) Western Branch LB Vince Hall (Virginia Tech), Jacksonville (FL) First Coast WR Anthony Hill (LSU), Brentwood (TN) High OL Steven Jones (Tennessee), Hamden (CT) Hyde DT Richard Kittrell (Iowa), Charlotte (NC) Independence QB Chris Leak (Florida), Cerritos (CA) Community College LB Marcus Miller (Oregon), Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha QB Ryan Mitch (Maryland), Pompano Beach (FL) Ely RB Tyrone Moss (Miami), Kennesaw (GA) Harrison DB Paul Oliver (Georgia), Irvington (NJ) High DT Nate Robinson (Miami), Daytona Beach (FL) Seabreeze DB Kenny Scott (Georgia Tech), State College (PA) High TE Jonathan Stupar (UVa), Greenwich (CT) High OL John Sullivan (Notre Dame), LaGrange (GA) High RB Skyler Thornton (Florida), Jacksonville (FL) White DB Dee Webb (Florida), Pompano Beach (FL) Ely OL Cyrim Wimbs (Miami) and Union (SC) High OL Eric Young (Tennessee).

Compiled by Dave Glenn

2003 North Carolina Football Signees

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Stars High School/Junior College Comment
Bryan Bethea RB/DB 5-10 175 2/3 Fayetteville (NC) Byrd SP-19 NC; committed May 2002; over ECU, WF
Adarius Bowman* WR 6-4 205 4/4 Chattanooga (TN) Notre Dame TL-5 WR; SP-10 WR; all-state; over Fla., Ga., Tenn. (?)
Melik Brown^ DE 6-3 255 3/3 Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military Re-sign from prep powerhouse Camden (NJ) Wilson
Shelton Bynum DT 6-5 310 2/3 Ellenwood (GA) Cedar Grove Three-year starter; also OL; over Aub., Md., USC (!)
Nick Cangelosi QB 6-4 215 3/3 Cherry Hill (NJ) Camden Catholic SP-17 NJ; 1st-team all-state; over BC, Iowa, Vandy (!)
Larry Edwards LB 6-3 215 3/3 Tampa (FL) Wharton SP-69 FL; 1st-team 5A; 4-year starter; over Fla., LSU
Kory Gedin* LB 6-2 230 3/4 Washington (DC) Gonzaga SP-25 LB; MAX-11 ILB; over BC, GT, NW, Vandy (!)
Charlston Gray OL 6-3 265 2/3 Fort Worth (TX) Dunbar HM 4A all-state; two-year starter; over Iowa, Missouri
Lionell Green* DB 6-1 180 5/4 Reedley (CA) CC SP-4 JC (overall); 2nd-team A-A; over Neb., USC, Tenn.
Kyndraus Guy DT 6-2 260 2/3 Hope Mills (NC) South View SP-11 NC; Shrine Bowler; over Clem., Duke, Md.
Jon Hamlett TE 6-5 250 3/3 Forest (VA) Jefferson Forest SP-31 VA; early decision; grandfather played at UNC
Marcus Hands DT/DE 6-6 245 3/4 Wilmington (NC) Laney SP-33 DL; committed April 2002; Shrine Bowler (?)
Roger Heinz QB 6-1 195 3/3 Tallahassee (FL) N. Fla. Christian SP-71 FL; 2nd-team 1A; 1999-2001 titles; over Md., WF
Jesse Holley* WR 6-3 190 4/3 Roselle (NJ) Clark SP-14 WR; TL-18 WR; hoops walk-on; over OSU, UVa
Terry Hunter* DE 6-4 245 4/3 Wendell (NC) East Wake MAX-4 DE; SP-4 NC; over Ga., NCSU, Tenn., UVa (?)
Joe Kedra* LB 6-4 220 3/4 Cherry Hill (NJ) Camden Catholic MAX-7 ILB; SP-19 LB; 1st-team all-NJ; over Neb., PSU
Scott Lenahan OL/DT 6-1 295 3/3 Kennesaw (GA) Harrison SP-39 GA; 1st-team 5A; also OL; July 2002 decision (!)
Donnell Livingston DT 6-3 290 3/3 Sarasota (FL) High HM 6A all-state; over FSU, Md., Miss., Neb., NCSU (?)
Mike Mason* WR 6-0 180 4/4 Rocky Mount (NC) High RV-10 WR; TL-11 WR; 1st-team all-NC; over ND, UVa
Ronnie McGill^ RB 6-1 205 2/3 Clover (SC) High SP-20 SC; all-star game led to offers; over Vandy, WF
Khalif Mitchell DT 6-6 285 2/2 Virginia Beach (VA) First Colonial Only 2 years of organized FB; over ECU, Kent St. (?)
Quinton Person RB/DB 5-11 175 2/3 Bethel (NC) North Pitt SP-13 NC; 4-year starter; over Duke, ECU, UVa, WF (!)
Kenny Price DT 6-4 280 2/2 Virginia Beach (VA) Kempsville SP-27 VA; 2nd-team 3A; 3-year starter; over Clem. (?)
Fred Sparkman* LB 6-2 215 4/3 Columbia (TN) Central TL-3 ILB; SP-23 LB; over Ark., Mich., USC, Tenn. (!)
Kareen Taylor DB 6-0 200 3/2 Fork Union (VA) Military From Hopewell (VA) High; two-time Fork Union MVP
Isaiah Thomas* DT 6-4 305 4/4 Winston-Salem (NC) Carver TL-8 OG; RV-10 DT; 1st-team all-NC; over NCSU, Tenn.

*-All-American (top 250 by two/more services)
(!)-strong academics
(?)-unconfirmed academics
MX-Max Emfinger
TL-Tom Lemming
STARS: By Insiders/Rivals