UNC Among Ga. DT's Top Choices

After two visits to North Carolina, the Tar Heel coaching staff has put itself in a great position for Sheldon Rankins.

"They're a top choice," Rankins said. "I really like what they have going there. Butch Davis is known for developing D-linemen, so that's always a plus. It has a good medical program. I really enjoyed the whole college atmosphere they got going on down there in Chapel Hill. It's really just a great place. It's really one of my top choices."

With that said, Rankins, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive lineman from Covington (Ga.) Eastside, wouldn't go as far as to label UNC his leader.

"I wouldn't say I have a favorite," Rankins said. "I like Louisville, I like North Carolina, I like South Florida – it's pretty much up for grabs. The two I know I really, really like right now are North Carolina and Louisville."

Rankins is unsure when he'll make a verbal commitment – it could come next week or on Signing Day.

"There's no time frame [to make a decision]," Rankins said. "It's whenever I feel I really know where I want to go it will be made."

In the meantime, Rankins will continue taking visits. He has already made trips to Florida, Georgia, and Georgia Tech, in addition to UNC. He will visit South Florida this weekend, Clemson next weekend, and Mississippi State sometime in April.

"I have three main things that I'm looking for [in a school]," Rankins said. "Of course I want the opportunity to come right in and show off my ability – not necessarily given the chance, but I want to earn it. Secondly, I'm looking for a good medical program. And third, the whole college [atmosphere] – everything about the place has to be to my liking."

Rankin's affection for UNC began during his childhood.

"I've always followed North Carolina," Rankins said. "Mostly because of basketball as a child – Michael Jordan went there. And then my favorite NFL player went there, Julius Peppers. So I've always kind of had my eye on them."

That intrigue led to Rankins attending UNC's three-day camp last summer. During the second day of that camp, he was verbally offered a scholarship.

In total, a dozen schools have verbally offered Rankins, including Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Louisville, Mississippi State, NC State, and South Florida.

Rankins' camping experience induced him to return to Chapel Hill.

"When I went to their camp last year, I just started liking them even more," Rankins said. "I just knew that I wanted to take a second visit back up there." Rankins classifies this past Saturday's visit as a "simple day" that included a tour of the weight room and watching UNC's seventh spring practice session.

"They looked real good [in practice]," Rankins said. "… I think they're going to have a pretty good team this year."

When he camped at UNC, Rankins worked out under John Blake, who is no longer on staff. Therefore, Saturday's visit also provided him a chance to get to know newly hired defensive line coach Joe Robinson.

"[Robinson] was a very friendly guy," Rankins said. "Some coaches don't cut up with you [and] they don't have a good time. He's a very cool guy, made everything simple, [and] just put everything on the table. He seemed like a real genuine coach."

Following practice, Rankins got to spend some time with Robinson.

"[He discussed] wanting me to come there and play," Rankins said. "He went through some practice film [and] asked us some questions – basically testing our football IQ. It was a pretty good presentation."

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