Tar Heels Offer Harrell

During a visit to North Carolina on Saturday, Mark Harrell received his newest scholarship offer.

"In the morning we got there and we went to Coach [Sam] Pittman's offensive line meeting," Harrell said. "He brought me into his office afterward and he was telling me that he just really wanted to see me before they made a move on whether or not they were going to offer – [he wanted to see] whether or not I was big enough – and he said he was going to talk to Coach [Butch] Davis before practice. We watched practice, took the campus tour, and then afterward Coach Davis came up to me and extended the offer."

A total of 15 schools have verbally offered Harrell, a 6-foot-5, 250-pounder from Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic. Among the schools to offer are Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Michigan, NC State, Notre Dame, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and West Virginia.

"[UNC] is an in-state school and it's really well known around North Carolina," Harrell said. "It has really good players and really good athletes, so it's definitely an honor to get an offer from there."

While sitting in on the offensive line meeting, Harrell received a close look at how Pittman coaches and teaches his offensive linemen.

"Coach Pittman is really good at what he does," Harrell said. "I feel like he really connects well and allows the offensive linemen to enjoy themselves – they seem to be enjoying each other and they weren't under any pressure [because] they were able to ask a lot of questions. Coach Pittman is a real personable guy. He wants people to do well. And he's a good teacher, as well."

After meeting with Pittman individually in his office, Harrell observed UNC's spring practice session.

"The practice was awesome," Harrell said. "It was intense. It was the first day of hitting, so they really got after it.

"I mostly watched the offensive line, but I was looking around. I saw the quarterbacks – I recognized Marquise Williams, who graduated early. They did seven-on-sevens, inside-run, one-on-ones – they did all that stuff."

Following practice, Harrell was given a campus tour by Marcus Berry, Director of Player Personnel. Harrell, who has several friends currently enrolled at UNC, has visited the campus socially before, but hasn't seen much of the academic side of the school.

"They took us down to the business school," Harrell said. "I was able to talk to a professor, who is the head of the admissions there. He was able to talk to me about the early admissions program, which a lot of athletes have done. That was nice, because if I do choose to go to Carolina and I'm able to [enroll early], that would be really big. I know it's a really good business school.

"I got to see all the dorms, the facilities, which buildings hold what kind of classes, the general building – it was a real in-depth tour."

Harrell plans to major in business in college.

After receiving the offer from Davis, Harrell spoke again with Pittman in his office.

"This time, [Pittman] talked about the offer and where he thinks I'll fit in," Harrell said. "He's a talker and a really funny guy."

Harrell starts at tight end in Charlotte Catholic's wing-T offense, where he's used almost exclusively as a blocker. Like most colleges, UNC is recruiting Harrell as an offensive tackle.

"[Pittman] likes the fact that I'm able to play the edge," Harrell said. "He said they're recruiting true tackles that can play the position and he said that's where I fit in the best. The fact that I'm able to run routes and use my feet, that helps at the tackle position at the next level."

Besides UNC, Harrell has visited Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, NC State, and Wake Forest. He will travel to Michigan this coming week and Virginia on April 2.

Harrell plans to make a verbal commitment before his senior football season kicks off.

"[Committing before my season] is the plan," Harrell said. "I'm not saying that's necessarily going to come true, but that's what I'd like it to be. That way I could focus on my high school football season and not have that distraction. I'll know where I'm going and be able to enjoy myself my senior year."

To increase the likeliness of that plan, Harrell is looking to narrow his focus to five schools in the beginning of the summer.

"That way, I would have all summer to think about [my collegiate decision]," Harrell said. "So hopefully by then, or maybe even earlier, I'll have a top five."

Three factors will have a major influence on Harrell's recruitment as he begins to make decisions.

"Academics are a big thing," Harrell said. "I know a lot of these schools have great academics, including Carolina and Notre Dame and Duke.

"And then the environment of the school [is important] – whether or not I like the players I'm going to be around the next four or five years.

"The position coach is another big thing, because he's the main guy I'm going to be dealing with on a day-to-day basis. I need to get along with him and see if I like the way he teaches his players and coaches."

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