Signing Day: UNC has one of nation’s best recruiting classes
CHAPEL HILL ó Butch Davis can remember the days of sitting nervously by a fax machine to wait for recruits to send in their letters of intent. The North Carolina coach didn’t have much reason to worry this time around.
The letters came early and often. And once they were all in, the Tar Heels had followed their most successful season in seven years by signing one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.
North Carolina unveiled a 29-player group Wednesday, with more than half the players coming from within the state. The list included: six players who made The Associated Press All-State prep football team for North Carolina in December; 10 players who were rated four-star recruits by Scout.com; and one five-star selection: Donte Moss, a lineman from Jacksonville and one of the nation’s top-rated defensive end prospects.
Scout.com ranked North Carolina’s class fifth nationally.
“I think we had a really good plan for every single kid that we went after,” Davis said during a news conference at Kenan Stadium.
Davis figured the recruiting success was the natural result of the Tar Heels’ eight-win season that included their first bowl appearance in four years. It was North Carolina’s best season since 2001.
Miller Safrit, a regional recruiting analyst for Scout.com, said the Tar Heels had the advantage of a coaching staff that has developed NFL prospects in previous coaching stops.
“People are seeing progress and that’s a big thing,” Safrit said. “(Preparing for the NFL) is something the North Carolina staff always talks about. It’s something that North Carolina has sold to many of these guys and ultimately it’s opened a lot more doors I think than were previously open.”
NCAA rules limit the number of players entering a program in the fall to 25 scholarship players. Davis said some players will defer their arrival for a semester while others might attend prep school due to academics. It’s unclear whether he will have enough scholarships for every signee this fall, though Davis said he expects to have a full group of 25 incoming scholarship players.
Seven signees are defensive backs, while four are offensive linemen and three are receivers. That group figures to have the best chance to see the field immediately, though Davis figures about half could play next year.
Davis said 14 letters of intent arrived first thing in the morning, with the only drama being when the letter for quarterback Donavan Tate of Georgia didn’t show up as expected. Davis said his staff called Tate and his coaches before learning his mother hadn’t found a place to fax it yet.
“There’s a significant amount of buzz about this program for the last 18 months,” Davis said. “As the wins have gotten better, the stadium expansion, getting to a bowl game, being on national television ó there’s an awful lot of positive momentum.
“And the ’09 recruiting class just continues to add another step to that process.”