NCF On The Trail: North Carolina Tar Heels

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The top five remains steady, but Ohio State has moved a step closer to potentially breaking into that group. The Buckeyes, whose class is led by three five-star prospects, added a commitment from an eighth ESPN 300 player in offensive lineman Matt Burrell Jr. The top-10 OG is a big, tough and competitive player. He needs to continue to better blend technique with his aggressive nature, but with some work he can be a physical and productive presence in the trenches for Ohio State.

It has been a challenging season for North Carolina, but the Tar Heels, who have won three of their past four games, were able to score a big victory on the recruiting trail. With a commitment from ESPN 300 DE Jalen Dalton, North Carolina was able to keep the state's No. 3-ranked prospect at home. A lengthy and athletic defender with good upside, Dalton is a promising player who could grow into a potential playmaker for a team that needs major help on defense. Despite some of the struggles this season UNC has still managed to put together a strong class that now sits at No. 21 and features five ESPN 300 prospects.

Inside the rankings

The biggest challenge for Urban Meyer and his staff since he arrived in Columbus has been luring top-flight defensive front personnel and overall skill from the Midwest that is comparable to what he had at Florida. It has been a down period in Ohio for the 2014 and 2015 classes in terms of sheer numbers and caliber of players, which led to the Buckeyes going after guys like Joey Bosa (Florida), Raekwon McMillan (Georgia), Vonn Bell (Georgia) and many others to help supplement the roster. That trend is continuing with the commitment of 2015 athlete Torrance Gibson.

The good news for the Buckeyes is that the upcoming in-state 2016 class is much stronger and deeper, which hopefully will allow for them to not have to venture too far south this time around to supplement the roster. The Buckeyes already have four players committed in 2016 and all are from Ohio.



To read the full class rankings, click here.

Scout's Take: DE Jalen Dalton to UNC 

November, 13, 2014
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North Carolina has secured a commitment from Under Armour All-American defensive end Jalen Dalton. Below, see what the addition of this key in-state prospect means for the Tar Heels:

Kansas State and TCU battle in one of the biggest games of the weekend, and Horned Frog coach Gary Patterson said both teams have been built off a comparable recruiting philosophy. Could landing ESPN 300 Junior recruit Jovanny Garcia start a trend for Minnesota?


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ESPN’s RecruitingNation released the updated class ranking for 2015 on Wednesday. Of course, Alabama remains in the top spot, but will be challenged by Georgia and Florida State for the top spot come National Signing Day.

Looking deeper into the class rankings, five teams off to poor starts could have a difficult time holding off rival teams for top recruits, including:

South Carolina

One could argue that the Gamecocks aren’t in need of a strong close in 2015 with 28 prospects already committed and a current place in the Top 10 classes, but needs remain on defense at tackle, linebacker, and cornerback for sure. A 6-6 or 7-5 season could make it tough to close, and give momentum to others trying to flip South Carolina commitments. Closing on Florida State defensive tackle commit and South Carolina native D.J. Jones could be tough, because the Seminoles remain atop the polls, and Clemson and Alabama are also possibilities. The same can be said for ESPN300 athlete Darius Slayton, who will likely choose between Georgia and South Carolina with a preference for wide receiver at the next level.

Miami (FL)

There was increased excitement headed into the 2014 season with the NCAA cloud lifted, and a number of exciting playmakers returning on offense. Throw in the otherworldly start to the 2016 class with seven ESPNJr300 pledges, and it looked like the Hurricanes were set up for a big finish in 2015 with momentum. Now 3-3 with a 6-6 finish a real possibility, the Hurricanes are no longer in the closing position. In fact, holding onto ESPN300 running back Dexter Williams could be difficult, and the Hurricanes have already lost ESPN300 tight end Bowman Archibald to Wake Forest. The Miami (FL) staff will be working hard to keep prospects such as Williams and ESPN300 linebacker Charles Perry in the fold, while attempting to finish the 2015 class that is need of playmakers and pass-rushers on defense.


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Help is on the way: ACC 

October, 8, 2014
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Each year on the recruiting trail, schools are met with needs that need to be addressed to shore up depth issues both immediately and down the line. With four months until national signing day for the class of 2015, many teams have addressed and met needs.


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ACC's top recruiting visits 

September, 5, 2014
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The second weekend of the season in the ACC will feature a number of unofficial visits featuring two of the Tar Heel states top uncommitted prospects in Shy Tuttle and Emanuel McGirt. The marquee official visit involving an ACC program will take place at Ohio State with the nation's top-ranked prospect set to make a second trip to see the Buckeyes.

1. Shy Tuttle
ESPN 300: No. 31

[+] EnlargeShy Tuttle
Miller Safrit/ESPNShy Tuttle's visit to North Carolina is important as the offensive tackle is set to make a decision on September 26.
The nation's No. 5 defensive tackle will be in Chapel Hill Saturday night for the Tar Heels game against San Diego State. Simply put, this is a huge unofficial visit for Larry Fedora and staff with Tuttle scheduled to announce a decision September 26. Headed into the season, Tennessee was considered the favorite over North Carolina with N.C. State fighting to stay in the mix. Tuttle was on campus again in Knoxville last weekend for the Volunteers' season opener --making Saturday's visit to Chapel Hill that much more important for the Tar Heels. Tuttle will follow up his trip this weekend to North Carolina with a Sept. 20 unofficial visit to N.C. State's game against Presbyterian. There are two factors working in Tennessee's favor in the Tuttle recruitment headed into this weekend. One, the talk of Tuttle and No. 90 Jalen Dalton going to the same college is just that -- talk. Tuttle will make his decision independent of Dalton, so the package deal is more myth than reality at this point. Two, Tuttle has said his mom prefers North Carolina. While that may be the case, Tuttle's circle is more than just his mother, and there is some Tennessee pull within the group. This recruitment is seemingly close between the Volunteers and Tar Heels with all the pressure on Fedora to keep the best of the best at home.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting news across the country. Today’s offerings: George Campbell is one of the most highly sought after players in the country, but the five-star athlete will announce his decision Friday on ESPN.com’s RecruitingNation. Plus, we now know when No. 5 cornerback Tarvarus McFadden will announce his decision, and the battle to land him involves five of the best recruiters in the country. We also continue our tour of the top recruiting happenings on social media.


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#SceneAndHeard Lunch Break: Sept. 3 

September, 3, 2014
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ESPN 300 Hines to cut list today

ESPN 300 No. 149 Nyheim Hines will announce his Top 7 at 7 ET tonight. While he's not technically cutting schools from consideration, programs that don't make the Top 7 are essentially out of contention at this point. Among those that are near locks to make the seven are NC State and Duke with North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio State also good bets. Also in serious contention are Vanderbilt, Georgia, Florida, Virginia Tech and Virginia. The major factor in the speedster's recruitment is his twin sister, Nyah. Nyah has been offered by NC State as a hurdler. Duke was considered the favorite last spring, but things are certainly pointing to the Wolfpack as the current team to beat with the track offer resting with Nyah.


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ESPN 300 safety Jamile Johnson Jr. is a versatile defender who could make an immediate impact in Chapel Hill.


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ACC recruits who fill biggest needs 

August, 12, 2014
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RecruitingNation takes a look at the 2015 recruits who most fill the needs of each of the ACC schools.


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Clemson has the No. 3-ranked recruiting class for 2015, and more than half of its commitments, including a five-star lineman, signed financial-aid agreements with the Tigers on Friday, six months before signing day.

Five-star offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Georgia/North Gwinnett) headlines a group of 13 commitments in Clemson’s 2015 class, which has 21 total pledges, that signed financial-aid agreements with the school on the first day prospects entering their senior year are allowed. All 13 are expected to enroll at Clemson in January.

"We're signing 13 guys to financial aid before we have even played a game,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said Friday. “We're excited to have them join the Clemson family."

The NCAA clarified a rule last year that allows for senior recruits planning to enroll in the midyear to sign financial-aid agreements with schools beginning Aug. 1, the same day schools can officially give a recruit a written offer. The financial-aid agreements do not bind the player to the school, but the school is locked into the player unless he is no longer eligible for midyear enrollment. For the recruits, it guarantees their scholarship in Clemson’s 2015 class.

The recruits did not sign national letters of intent and are free to sign financial-aid agreements with multiple schools, but only the school they signed with first receives the contact benefits. With the clarified rule, however, once a prospect signs a financial-aid agreement the school can publicly mention the recruit and is no longer limited to contact restrictions with that recruit. The Clemson coaches are not limited to calling those 13 prospects once a week during the season anymore. Before last year it was taboo for schools to mention a recruit by name before signing a letter of intent, but the Tigers updated its official Twitter account throughout the day Friday welcoming the 13 recruits and sent out a press release announcing the soon-to-be additions.

There is a minor risk in Clemson publicly announcing the 13 recruits, and Swinney said Friday it’s still uncomfortable to be speaking about high school players before they are locked in to Clemson. If any of the 13 players enrolls at a school outside of Clemson, it could be perceived as a recruiting violation for mentioning a prospective student-athlete by name. The NCAA told ESPN.com reporter Mitch Sherman in January one conference office requested it be a violation. Any violation, if the NCAA deemed it as such, would likely be minor in nature.

There is an upward trend with recruits graduating high school a semester early and enrolling in January, and Clemson is taking full advantage. Deshaun Watson, the No. 1 quarterback in the 2014 class, enrolled in January and went through spring practice, and now the Tigers will likely bring in 13 recruits from the 2015 class for the spring semester. The extra semester on campus coupled with the 15 spring practices allows those freshmen to potentially make a greater impact during the season. The Tigers had five early enrollees in the 2014 class.

Six ESPN 300 recruits were among the 13 who signed for Clemson. Hyatt (No. 17) was joined by Jake Fruhmorgen (No. 95), Garrett Williams (114), Ray-Ray McCloud III (150), Noah Green (181) and Shadell Bell (262). Kelly Bryant, Kaleb Chalmers, Zach Giella, Tucker Israel, Tanner Muse, Chad Smith and Van Smith were the remaining recruits to sign financial-aid agreements.

Elsewhere in the ACC, North Carolina announced that two 2015 recruits, Carl Tucker and Anthony Ratliff, signed agreements.
In every class there are must-get recruits for schools. They can be a top uncommitted prospect or even a pledge who is essential to keep in the fold.

Here are the picks for the teams in the ACC, with the prospect's overall ranking.


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ESPN 300 RB Ty'Son Williams has the potential to be a true bell cow at the next level for North Carolina.


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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The ongoing NCAA investigation into academic fraud at North Carolina hasn't been a focal point in the Tar Heels' locker room, coach Larry Fedora said at Monday's ACC Kickoff, but it's been an ever-present speed bump on the recruiting trail.

The NCAA last month reopened the investigation, which had been concluded in 2012 and which Fedora said he'd believed was closed for good, sparking another round of negative recruiting from competing schools.

"It's not really affecting our team," Fedora said. "The players, they're not concerned with it. They've been hearing about it for three years. It's just old news. The ones it affects is in recruiting. That's where it hits you the hardest. The other schools, that's what they're using when they're recruiting against you."

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Ducks renew hunt for future QB 

June, 20, 2014
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Signing a top quarterback remains at the top of the list for the Oregon Ducks.

After first losing out to Texas A&M on five-star Kyler Murray, the top quarterback on the board, the Ducks went after former Notre Dame commit Blake Barnett. While it appeared as if Oregon had a very good chance to land the Under Armour All-America selection, Barnett committed to Alabama on Wednesday in what was another hit at the position for the Ducks.

The Ducks, however, wasted little time moving on to the next quarterback on the board.


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