Staff Recruiting Impact

With six of the nine assistant coaches that will ultimately make up Larry Fedora's UNC coaching staff following him from Southern Miss, North Carolina's recruiting game plan will have a strong Golden Eagle flavor. Analyzing the recent work of that group on the recruiting trail can help forecast what to expect at UNC.

According to Drew White of, Southern Miss had more commitments from Georgia during Fedora's tenure than the two decades prior combined. Also, Southern Miss signed more Alabama natives than the University of Alabama in the past two classes and has just as many or more 2012 verbal commitments from Alabama as both the Crimson Tide and Auburn.

Ironically, though, Southern Miss didn't delve into the Mississippi ranks as much under Fedora. After signing 14 Mississippi natives in his inaugural Southern Miss class, Fedora inked 15 total in the 2010 and 2011 classes combined. Of the 20 verbal commitments the Golden Eagles secured for the 2012 class, only four were from the Magnolia State.

"I think there's good quality in Mississippi, but I don't think the quantity has been there the past two-three years," White said. "The top players in Mississippi are as good as anybody, but the quantity has been down.

"[The lack of success in-state] isn't due to lack of effort. The top players were going to SEC schools in the area and there just wasn't enough beyond that… Alabama, on the other hand, has been loaded with talent. You see what Alabama and Auburn have done with the top tier kids. And also Southern Miss has had some serious ties to the state [of Alabama]."

Compared to Mississippi, lack of talent shouldn't be an issue in North Carolina. The Tar Heel State had roughly 80 prospects sign with Division I-A schools in the 2011 class, compared to 52 in Mississippi. Southern Miss is a non-BCS school competing against SEC schools Ole Miss and Mississippi State, while UNC is one of four BCS schools in NC and one of two that are truly a factor with the top in-state recruits.

The obstacle for Fedora's pledge of landing in-state talent could be the coaching staff's lack of ties to North Carolina. Outside of Gunter Brewer, who played collegiately at Wake Forest and is returning to Chapel Hill for his second stint, and Vic Koenning, who was Clemson's defensive coordinator for three seasons, neither Fedora nor the assistants announced Tuesday have regularly recruited the Tar Heel State.

"If you've got a guy that's recruited in the state of Florida, I don't have any doubt in my mind that he's going to be a great recruiter in the state of North Carolina," Fedora told Inside Carolina's Greg Barnes. "If you can recruit, you can recruit. There's an art to it. It's not a science. Every guy has his own way of doing it, but the ones that are successful year-in and year-out, no matter where they recruit… It's easy to go into one area and recruit that area for 10-15 years, you know? You ought to be good. But if you've been doing it at different places, at multiple places, that's what makes you a great recruiter."

Due to proximity, it will be difficult for UNC to replicate Southern Miss' success in Alabama, but proximity won't be as much of an issue with the state of Georgia. While at Southern Miss, Dan Disch recruited southern Georgia, Chris Kapilovic recruited western Georgia, and Dave Duggan recruited mid-Georgia.

Disch's expertise, though, is northeast Florida. He recruited that area for both Southern Miss and Illinois and has already made an impact with recruits in that region for UNC, including verbal commitment Joseph Jackson. Disch is a Jacksonville native and was a high school coach in the city for 13 years, including a head coach the final six at Ed White High School.

"When Coach Disch came on, Southern Miss started really hitting north Florida," White said. "It had a few commits this year from the Jacksonville area, because of Coach Disch's connections."

Although they both obviously had territory responsibilities, Duggan's and Kapilovic's biggest impact was felt in the recruitments of linebackers and offensive linemen, respectively. Like Duggan and Kapilovic, Blake Anderson was the primary recruiter for prospects at his position, quarterback.

Anderson also was responsible for the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama.

Of the six coming from Hattiesburg, White says Southern Miss will miss Kaplovic, Deke Adams, and Disch most.

"They are three guys that Southern Miss fans hated to lose, because of their recruiting ability," White said.

"Caleb Peterson, who at one point was a four-star guy that was offered by Auburn and Alabama, committed to Southern Miss because he just loved Coach Kap'. Everybody I've talked to that is being recruited by Southern Miss has mentioned Coach Kap'. He is a great guy that really connects well with the players.

"Coach Adams is an energetic guy that the players absolutely love and he is a fantastic recruiter.

"Coach Disch, Southern Miss only had him for one year, but he landed verbal commitments from several players out of Florida and south Georgia that are going to be great players at Southern Miss. The players absolutely loved him as well."

White also adds that Walt Bell, the youngest of the announced assistant coaches at 27 years old, is a hardworking, up-and-comer. In addition to northern Mississippi, Bell, a Tennessee native and former Middle Tennessee wide receiver, recruited the Memphis area for Southern Miss.

A common misconception is that Southern Miss relied heavily on junior college transfers to fill out its classes. While the Golden Eagles have signed more JuCo recruits than UNC the past four years, it pales in comparison to other schools in its area.

"There were a few JuCo guys – three, maybe four guys that would be plugged into certain roles – but for the most part, [Fedora] was getting high school guys," White said. "Now, Mississippi State and Ole Miss the past 15 years you've seen them sign a lot of JuCo guys. But Southern Miss has not really been one to do that. Fedora's philosophy was they're going to fill the roster with high school guys and then plug a hole here or there with a JuCo guy."

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