DL Commits Weigh-In On Baker

North Carolina's defensive line commitments have varying degrees of knowledge of, and communication with, newly hired defensive line coach Brian Baker thus far. But they're all excited to play for a coach with extensive NFL experience.

Shawn Underwood, who verbally committed to former defensive line coach John Blake, was able to meet Baker on Saturday.

"[Sam Pittman] came to the school on Friday and he said that [Baker] had just got into town and he wanted me to meet him," Underwood said. "So my mom and I went up there that next day."

The meeting, which lasted roughly an hour, provided Underwood, a 6-foot-2, 318-pound defensive tackle from Fuquay-Varina (N.C.), a chance to get to know Baker.

"[Baker] told me about his background and then he was talking about how he's going to be there, as far as like a father figure, and how they're going to fit me into the situation next year," Underwood said.

Underwood says he was impressed by Baker's background.

"It's impressive, but almost all [college] coaches have coached in the NFL," Underwood said. "I want to play in the league."

More importantly, though, Underwood immediately developed a bond with Baker.

"After talking to him, I got an instant connection, which is very rare when I first meet a person," Underwood said. "It's a first, me making a connection like that. Usually, I have to meet someone a couple of times before I judge them."

Besides furthering his relationship with Baker, during Underwood's upcoming official visit, which is scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 28, he will also double as a recruiter.

"There's another defensive tackle – I think Phillip Dukes – is coming [that weekend] also," Underwood said. "I'm going to try to persuade the dude to come to UNC. I'm going to try to recruit. My words come up at the spur of the moment."

Underwood was considering officially visiting other schools, but that's no longer the case.

"I'm pretty firm with Carolina, so I'm not going to take any [other] official visits – I don't want to risk anything," Underwood said. "I was just thinking about the whole thing. I committed to Carolina earlier, so what's the reason to go visit other schools."

Although he hasn't done so yet, Tyler Alberts is attempting to set up a similar introductory meeting with Baker.

"Coach ‘Mo' [Allen Mogridge] said the next time he comes up [to visit me], he's going to set it up to where Coach Baker comes with him," Alberts said. "So I'll get a chance to talk to him and meet him."

Alberts is also looking to attend an upcoming weekend basketball game at UNC – perhaps the NC State game on Jan. 29 – where the 6-foot-8, 220-pound defensive end from Lewisville (N.C.) Forsyth Country Day will get a chance to meet individually with Baker.

"I can't wait to get in and start playing for him and working for him," Alberts said. "I think it's awesome that I'm going to get an opportunity to play for him… I think he's going to help us win and that's all that I'm about."

In the meantime, Mogridge has told Alberts a little about Baker.

"[Mogridge said] he's a great coach, one of the best at what he does, and really the best guy for the job, and he can't wait to get me around him," Alberts said.

Unlike his fellow UNC defensive line commitments, Devonte Brown was initially unaware of Baker's hiring.

"It's a good that [UNC] made a hire," the 6-foot-4, 279-pound defensive tackle from Fayetteville (N.C.) Britt said.

Brown did, though, hear Baker was a candidate, which prompted him to do some research.

"I read up on him," Brown said. "…I'm sure he has a lot to teach us for the next level, which is good because I want to play on the next level. I'm looking forward to what he can teach me and how he can make me a better defensive player."

Brown, like Underwood, had developed a relationship with Blake throughout the recruiting process. But Brown verbally committed to UNC well after Blake resigned and without knowing who his position coach would be.

"It makes me feel good that I committed and that I made the right decision," Brown said.

Although other schools have continued to recruit him, Brown says he doesn't plan on taking any future official visits. He officially visited UNC in mid-November, where he made his verbal commitment.

Inside Carolina Top Stories