Rashad: UNC Was 'More Than I Expected'

Jacksonville (Fla.) Episcopal's Shakeel Rashad became a member of North Carolina's 2012 recruiting class on Thursday. The junior linebacker talked to InsideCarolina.com about his decision ...

Why did you decide to go ahead and commit now?

"Well, I was leaning towards North Carolina the whole time. I went to North Carolina this past weekend and the weekend before that I went to South Carolina, which was my No. 2 school. Heading into those visits I said to myself ‘Unless something huge happens at South Carolina and unless something bad happens at North Carolina, I'm committing the week that I get back.' South Carolina wasn't all that I expected it to be and North Carolina – it was my third visit [to the school – ended up being more than I expected it to be. So I came back and I committed."

During your most recent UNC visit, was there anything in particular that you were hoping to get answered that would help you make your decision?

"The players, really. I wanted to get there and meet some players. I did get to meet some players and two of the freshman from [the 2011] class. So that really helped out."

Ultimately, what was it about UNC that made you want to commit to the school and list them as your leader for a significant period of time?

"I really loved the campus, as well as the size of the school – it's about 17,000 students. It's not too big and it's not too small – the big college experience with the small college atmosphere, basically.

"Also, the facilities are great, all the coaches are great, and now I know the players are great. It's just a good environment to be in."

Was there a UNC coach that had a major influence on your decision?

"It started with Coach [Troy] Douglas when he came down to recruit me, really. From there, it turned into Coach [Art] Kaufman, too, and then Coach [Butch] Davis. It's everyone up there, really – the whole coaching staff is great."

When did you verbally commit to the UNC coaches?

"This morning at 10 o'clock I spoke to Coach Davis and Coach Kaufman."

What was their reaction to the commitment?

"They might have been a little bit surprised by the timing of it all. But I don't think they were surprised at all [by the actual decision], because the last time it was ‘When I come here early' – it wasn't ‘If,' it was ‘When.' So at that point, I think they realized I was going to go there."

What schools have verbally offered you a scholarship?

"I have eight [offers] – North Carolina, South Carolina, Wake Forest, UCF, Maryland, Duke, Boston College, and Louisville."

And you didn't want to wait to see which other schools would offer you in the future before committing?

"No I didn't. I went through, I thought about it, I charted out everything about every school that I liked, and it really came down to the two schools that I liked were North Carolina and South Carolina. I was lucky enough to get those two offers early, I checked the schools out, and I made my decision."

When did you zero-in on UNC and South Carolina being your finalists?

"Probably, two weeks after our season ended – that's when I had time to sit down and think about it. I didn't think about it much during the season. But once our season ended, I really started thinking about it and I realized North Carolina and South Carolina were my two schools."

Besides UNC and South Carolina, what other schools have you visited?

"I went to UCF for a game this year, I'm gone to camps at Wake Forest three times, and I've been to Duke twice now."

How firm is this commitment? Will you visit other schools?

"My coach said when [college] coaches come here, he's not going to be rude and not let them speak to me. But, it's firm. I'm not visiting any other schools. I'm done."

What's your connection to the Carolinas?

"I was born in Charleston, S.C. and I have family in Columbia – about 10-15 minutes from South Carolina's campus. My brother was born in Summerville. My mom and dad both lived [in Summerville] for a long time – that's actually where they met.

"My dad was in the Navy – that's how we ended up moving down here to Jacksonville."

I suppose you wanted to return to the Carolinas – at least for four years?

"I did. Every year we've gone up to South Carolina for Christmas to visit family and I just love South Carolina. I heard North Carolina was the same kind of atmosphere and weather – the state. It was better than South Carolina, actually."

A lot of recruits commit early to help their respective schools recruit. Is that your plan?

"I definitely plan on doing that. I met some guys on visits and I've already been talking to them on Facebook and I'm ready to get them up to North Carolina, too."

Any recruits in particular?

"Trey Edmunds, I met him on a visit [at UNC]. And then also there's a lineman over at Bolles, I'm trying to talk to him a little bit – John Theus."

With your recruitment out of the way, what's next for you?

"Next for me is just getting ready. ACC football is a big deal. I want to get bigger, faster, [and] smarter."

The plan for you is to graduate early and enroll at UNC in January, correct?

"That is definitely the plan. My school is kind of strict with academics, so I've been having meetings with the headmistress, as well as my college adviser. I definitely plan on working that out. We're definitely trying to work that out. They said it's definitely a huge possibility."

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