How Summers Became a Tar Heel

GREENSBORO, N.C. --- James Summers was verbally committed to NC State for nearly ten months, but made a sudden switch to UNC a week before Signing Day. After finalizing his decision at a Wednesday signing ceremony at his school, Summers revisited how he became a Tar Heel.

The previous UNC coaching staff did recruit Summers, a 6-foot-1, 192-pound dual-threat quarterback from Page High School. At the time, though, Summers showed a passing interest in the Tar Heels and its pro-style offense. Thus, he went on to verbally commit to NC State.

Newly hired Larry Fedora's installation of a one-back spread offense, coupled with Patton Robinette's de-commitment, got UNC back into the picture.

"Coach [Blake Anderson] came over to the school and he asked to see me," Summers said. "He said, ‘I just want to use two minutes of your time.' And he told me what they have over there. He said, ‘Look, I know you're committed, but I think we fit you best.' He explained what they have over there, what type of offense that they're running, and he explained it to me – very well… He told me to come on an official visit and I could see [the offense] on film."

Summers went on to schedule an official visit for the weekend of Jan. 20 – and made sure NC State was well aware of his plans.

"I told them I was going on an official visit, because I wanted to see what [UNC] had to offer me," Summers said. "[NC State] didn't take it too well, but they told me, ‘Well James, if you feel like that's what's best for you, then go do that.'"

The official visit to UNC set the stage for Summers's eventual flip.

"The official visit blew my mind," Summers said. "I got to feel the environment and a feel for the players. I like the players a lot and they fit my character a lot. I fit right in."

Specially, Summers fit in with his host for the weekend - rising sophomore tight end, and former Greensboro star, Eric Ebron.

"That's my boy," Summers said. "I was one of the first ones that he met when he moved down from New Jersey. We've been playing ball together [since we were younger]. He has always kept me smiling."

The following week, Summers hosted in-home visits with NC State and UNC.

"Those really weren't about me, they were about my family most," Summers said. "My family wanted to know what each one had to offer. They felt like my decision [to change my commitment] was right, so I just went with it."

Summers didn't make the decision to switch his verbal commitment to UNC until after Larry Fedora and Anderson left his home.

"It was the offense," Summers said. "It's the same offense that we run here... You use all your weapons on the field – that's what I want to play in."

Kevin Gillespie, Page's head football coach, agrees. "I haven't had a chance to study it a whole lot, but when I was talking to Coach Anderson he was going over their reads [and] what they do," Gillespie said. "Basically, it's our offense on steroids. They are real up-tempo, high octane. But they do a lot of the same stuff that we do – they just do it a whole lot faster paced."

With his mind made up, Summers had to make a very difficult phone call to Mike Reed, his lead NC State recruiter.

"Coach Reed is a real good man," Summers said. "He was like, ‘Hey, do what you have to do. I respect your choice in whatever you do. But we want you here.' I told Coach Reed that I loved him a lot – and I meant it."

The decision to switch surprised Gillespie.

"I knew that State was a good fit [and] I knew that he was really excited because that was his childhood team," Gillespie said. "But, to be quite honest, when the new coaching staff came in [at UNC] and they were going to run a system that fits his style and they wanted him to play quarterback, that was it. When he made the decision [to switch] it didn't shock me, but I was a little surprised."

Growing up, Summers was a fan of UNC in basketball and a fan of NC State in football. That's no longer the case.

"With football, I'm UNC all the way now," Summers said.

Academically, Summers has some work to do in order to become qualified according to the NCAA Clearinghouse.

"I need to get my test scores up a little higher," Summers said. "But I'll be fine. I'll make it."

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