Heels Get Their Running Back

A week after receiving the scholarship offer, Khris Francis gave Larry Fedora his verbal commitment during a visit to the campus.

"We were in this meeting and Coach Fedora was showing a highlight tape of their season, and what to expect when you come into UNC," Francis recalled of his Wednesday visit. "After we finished that, we were about to got eat, that's when I told Coach Fedora that I wanted to be a Tar Heel. I could describe his reaction, but it's on YouTube (watch video)."

Francis, a 5-foot-9, 181-pound junior running back from Durham (N.C.) Hillside, says he planned on committing before he arrived for the visit, but the filming of the verbal commitment was spur of the moment.

"My mom just whipped out her cell phone and recorded it," Francis said. "I didn't even know she was going to put it on YouTube. I didn't know she recorded it until she told me at the basketball game."

UNC was Francis' lone scholarship, but he was receiving significant interest from Duke, NC State, Penn State, and Syracuse.

"As the 2012 class was dwelling down, I started to get new interest in him," Hillside head coach Antonio King said. "I'm expecting more offers to come in for Khris."

Francis decided not to wait on any other offers.

"I felt like Carolina believed in me considering they were the first ones to give me an offer," Francis said. "Talking to Coach [Randy] Jordan, he said ‘Most schools care about your height and weight,' but he trusted my abilities to accomplish what any other running back could do.

"Not only that, they have a sports medicine program which I plan to major it. When I went by [Wednesday], I had a meeting with one of the professors. He gave me the run down.

"And I got to finally meet with Coach Fedora. I don't even know how to describe him – he's just so energetic at all times. And he's real cool."

Additionally, Francis has several ties to UNC. He grew up a Tar Heel fan, has UNC alumni throughout his family, and has a grandmother who is currently teaching at the school.

Francis' commitment to UNC is matched by UNC's commitment to Francis.

"They only wanted one (true) running back from my class and once the first person committed, basically all the other scholarships were null and void," Francis said. "That was part of [Fedora's] speech when we had our meeting."

Although he had already planned on committing, Wednesday's visit cemented those plans.

"[The visit] made it that much better," Francis said.

The visit, which included a campus tour and spending time with the coaching staff, concluded with Francis' first UNC-Duke basketball game.

"I was upset that Carolina lost, but it was an overall real good game," Francis said. "Most of the game, we had to stand up just because everyone in front of us were so excited they were standing up. I think everyone got a work out."

In hindsight, the verbal commitment should have been expected.

"It was exciting getting the offer [a week ago]," Francis said. "It was unexpected, as well. I didn't know what to say at all. I was on the phone with Coach Jordan – talked to him for a little bit. Then I got on with Coach Fedora and he was the one that actually extended the offer. Then I talked to Coach Jordan a little bit more.

"They talked about the school, the football program, how I would look good in Carolina Blue. When I was talking to Coach Jordan, he said he was from North Carolina, went to UNC, was a running back, and wore No. 21 also. So we got some connection there."

King considers Francis's junior season, which he rushed for 2,251 yards and 31 touchdowns, his breakout year. Francis also had 90 yards and a score in receptions.

"Khris is a very durable running back," King said. "He's very agile. He can run between the tackles, he can catch the ball – he's an every down ‘back. He has good speed, a strong runner, [and] gets stronger as the game goes on."

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