Tar Heel Coach Larry Fedora announced a signing class of 20 players on National Signing Day with the likelihood of more players to come as several graduate transfers consider opting for the Tar Heels.
The class includes five offensive linemen, four defensive backs, two running backs but no quarterbacks. Carolina didn’t pursue any quarterbacks in the 2017 class given that the staff expected Mitch Trubisky to be back in 2017 and that it signed two quarterbacks in 2016.
“This is a pretty special class,” Fedora says. “It’s loaded with great athletes. This group understands what a commitment is. This is a high-character, high football IQ group. They have great family support and a tremendous will to succeed. And they value an education at the University of North Carolina. I really believe this group will be part of multiple championships at Carolina.”
One interesting element of the class is the geographical breakdown: five from North Carolina, four from Georgia (with two more likely to come), three from Tennessee, three from Florida, and one each from Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Alabama.
Fedora and various assistants over his five-year tenure at Carolina have extensive recruiting ties in Georgia and have used them to sign four players in 2012, three in 2013, five in 2014, two in 2015 and five in 2016. The brand of football in the state is very good, many of the players are academically inclined and qualified, and Atlanta is just a six hour drive from Chapel Hill.
“North Atlanta in particular has really good schools, and they do a great job blending academics and football,” offensive coordinator and O-line coach Chris Kapilovic says. “From that side of town, you can get to us in five hours. It’s not too far. We’re finding guys who are looking for more than a ‘football factory.’ We’ve had some success there and that’s opened some eyes.”
The Tar Heel staff learned of linebacker Malik Robinson from Snellville last year when secondary coach Charlton Warren was recruiting 2016 signee Tomon Fox. Carolina got an assist in signing offensive tackle Jordan Tucker of Roswell in this class from the family Tyrone Hopper Jr., a 2016 linebacker signee.
Fedora and staff have had to look further than their traditional home base as well because of the incessant cloud over the program from the already-served NCAA probation and lingering inquiry following the Wainstein Report from 2014. Fedora says the program is getting less pushback from in-state recruits as each year evolves.
“We’re not having that black cloud over us,” he says. “We’re not having everyone saying the sky is falling on North Carolina every day. That’s a positive thing. Winning 19 games over two years has helped. I think there are only 10 Power Five teams in the country who have won more than us over two years. High schools in this state are seeing nothing but positive things from our program now.”