Rankins' feelings towards UNC were so strong during that June visit that the 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive lineman from Covington (Ga.) Eastside contemplated verbally committing to the Tar Heels. However, the uncertainty created by UNC's looming meeting with the NCAA's board on infractions forced him to hold off.
"I followed my heart and my heart told me ‘Don't commit at that point and time,'" Rankins said. "Things happen to come along when I didn't commit."
Since everything transpired, Rankins has had conversations with Withers and Joe Robinson, UNC's defensive line coach. Rankins says he actually speaks with someone from UNC roughly once a week.
"They let me know that nothing has changed up there," Rankins said. "They still want me. Basically, they're still recruiting me real hard."
In addition to UNC, Rankins says he's considering Auburn, Louisville, Mississippi State, Nebraska, and South Florida.
"My game plan is to set up some official [visits] sometime soon," Rankins said. "Other than that, my recruitment is going to be pretty simple. I'm going to take my officials and make my decision when I feel right about it."
Rankins plans to take all five official visits before making a verbal commitment, but isn't sure which schools will receive them.
"I'm looking to [discuss official visit dates with schools] in the coming week," Rankins said. "I'll probably take some – maybe one or two – during the season. But most of them would be after the season, though."
Rankins' senior football season kicks off this Friday when Eastside hosts cross-town rival Covington (Ga.) Alcovy. Although he'll start and primarily play defensive end, Rankins will stand up at linebacker where he'll be asked to drop into coverage and pass rush.