Thorpe Takes Role As Recruiter

Having firmed up his commitment to North Carolina, T.J. Thorpe has embraced his role as Tar Heel recruiter, as evidenced by his official visit to UNC a couple weeks back.

"My job (on the visit), which the coaches told me before hand, was to recruit, recruit, recruit," Thorpe said.

Thorpe, a 6-foot, 170-pound wide receiver from Durham (N.C.) Jordan, found success in his mission. Fellow official visitors Devonte Brown and Alex Dixon arrived in Chapel Hill uncommitted and left as UNC pledges.

"For Devonte Brown, besides the coaches, I feel like I can take a large amount of credit for his commitment," Thorpe said. "Him and I talked for almost the entire second half of the Virginia Tech football game.

"With Alex Dixon, the crazy thing about him was it was more so my parents who got him to commit…His mother must have been the biggest Carolina fan that I've seen at a game in a while, as far as a [non-committed] recruit. His mom and my parents hit it off real well. And we all just hung out throughout the tours and the visit."

Thorpe fully expected Dixon to verbally commit to UNC before he headed home.

"[Dixon] spent a lot of time in the student store to get apparel and stuff," Thorpe said. "I know he bought a book bag and other stuff."

Technically, A.J. Blue was Thorpe's player host for the weekend. But, for all intents and purposes, Blue was given the weekend off.

"I pretty much knew everything," Thorpe said. "I knew a lot of the players. It was like [Blue] was hanging out with his friends and I was doing the same."

Besides Blue, Thorpe spent a great deal of time with Anthony Elzy, Brendon Felder, Erik Highsmith, Ryan Houston, Reggie Wilkins, Johnny White, and Deunta Williams.

Including the official visit, Thorpe has attended every one of UNC's home games.

"[The coaches] don't get tired of seeing me," Thorpe said. "If anything, they encourage me to come more during the week.

"I come to all the games, because it's very convenient – it's right by my house – and because I enjoy being there a lot. It's a good way to spend that weekend – watching football and with people I feel comfortable around."

On the final day of his official visit, Thorpe met with Charlie Williams, UNC's wide receivers coach.

"He just showed me some of the things that I'd be doing," Thorpe said. "And also, we just analyzed film. He treats me as if I'm already playing for them. He allows me to come by and sit in on the film sessions. He took me right under his wing as soon as I committed – and even before then."

Before ending his official visit, Thorpe and his parents met with Butch Davis.

"[Davis] just wanted to ask how our weekend was – stuff like that," Thorpe said. "It was just review from before."

Thorpe had entertained the idea of officially visiting other schools, but not anymore.

"For me, I'm pretty sure I'm done," Thorpe said. "I don't see anywhere else that I really want to go. Virginia and UCLA came in the picture late and pushed hard, but I don't see anything that's going to my mind with where I'm going. I'm perfectly fine with where I'm at."

Thorpe will graduate from Jordan on Dec. 20 and figures to enroll at UNC on Jan. 10.

"I'm pretty sure everything is running smoothly," Thorpe said. "I just finished up my application."

Before heading to UNC for his official visit, Thorpe played his final game in a Jordan uniform.

"We were really young as a team," Thorpe said. "Very little of us had a lot of varsity experience – me and like three other players had played more than a year on varsity."

Regardless, Jordan went 7-5 and lost in the first round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs to Fayetteville (N.C.) Seventy-First.

"The last game really put things into perspective for me as far as the season goes and the character of the team," Thorpe said. "Just to battle back from 20 points down and to actually make it a game and we had a couple of injuries in that game that stalled us. I honestly feel like if we had of won that game, we would be practicing right now, seeing how we had Seventy-First on the ropes and they came out and demolished Jack Britt."

Thorpe began the year starting at wide receiver on offense and seeing a lot of time at free safety on defense. As the season went along, though, he saw less time on defense.

"I had to shy away from a lot of defense just to keep me really, really fresh for offense, so we could get a lot of production on offense," Thorpe said.

Injuries eventually forced Thorpe to alternate between wide receiver and running back.

"No matter where I was on offense, I was double-teamed – and sometimes triple-teamed," Thorpe said.

Thorpe ended his senior season with 45 receptions for 962 yards, five interceptions, and 14 total touchdowns (eight receiving, four rushing, an interception return, and a fumble recovery return).

Surprisingly, Thorpe, who set the state single season record for most kick returns for touchdowns as a junior, was kept out of the end zone on kick and punt returns.

"I know for a fact that Grimsley didn't kick me the ball, Riverside's coach told me ahead of time they weren't going to kick me the ball, [and] Northern didn't either," Thorpe said. "Hillside might have been the only one that really kicked me the ball and when they did, I almost went to the house on that one – I was stopped short on the ten-yard line."

Thorpe has one last high school game to play. On Dec. 18, he'll represent North Carolina in the Shrine Bowl.

"[Playing in that] caps off everything that I wanted to do in my high school career," Thorpe said. "It's a real big honor."

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