UNC Atmosphere Impresses Miles

North Carolina verbal commitment Donnie Miles watched his first football game inside Kenan Stadium on Saturday. His future team didn't fail to impress, with a thrilling 43-35 win over archrival NC State.

"The environment really impressed me," the 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety from Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett said. "A lot of people try to tell me how good the SEC is. The environment was like an SEC game. The crowd was really getting into it."

The crowd was at its loudest, by all accounts, during Gio Bernard's game-winning 74-yard punt return touchdown, which broke a 35-35 tie with seconds remaining in the game.

"I was like ‘Wow, Gio's a great player,'" Miles said. "When I saw him catch the ball and saw him reverse field and I saw lanes, I thought ‘Oh man, that's a touchdown.'"

Miles was also impressed by the chrome helmets UNC debuted on Saturday.

"That was crazy," Miles said. "I was loving it – especially how they set it up as a surprise."

The surprise was set up by having the players warm up in their white helmets. When they returned to their lockers just before kickoff, they found the chrome helmets waiting for them.

While all the hoopla made a lasting impression on Miles, his main focus on Saturday was evaluating UNC's 4-2-5 defense, which co-defensive coordinators Dan Disch and Vic Koenning brought with them last January.

"I know they're in a new system and scheme," Miles said. "They're still getting used to playing the new scheme. I feel like it could only get better and I could definitely fit in. Hopefully, I can come in right away and fit in. I think everything is going to be good once the coaches get in another year. And then next year they'll be able to take it to another level."

UNC's 4-2-5 defense utilizes three different safeties – free, strong, and the Ram. The coaching staff hasn't "officially" informed Miles which one they project him as.

"I'm going to be ready no matter where I'm thrown in at," Miles said. "Hopefully, I can play something that's going to get me on the field the fastest. But if I had preference, I like strong safety."

For North Gwinnett, Miles usually rotates between cornerback and free safety. Currently, North Gwinnett's coaching staff has him playing a position similar to UNC's Ram. Miles expects a move back to his usual cornerback/free safety rotation come playoff time in a couple weeks. The plan for the playoffs also includes using Miles at running back (he has only played defense since suffering a concussion earlier in the year).

On Saturday, Miles didn't spend a whole lot of time on campus before or after the game, because of the travel that was involved in the trip. But he did converse with Deke Adams, his primary recruiter, and Disch, his future position coach.

"They just want me to be ready," Miles said. "They said to be ready when I come, because I have a chance to play, because they're going to be rotating a lot of people."

During the game, Miles met several fellow UNC verbal commitments, including Jordan Fieulleteau, Mitch Trubisky, and Ryan Switzer.

"We keep up with each other on Twitter," Miles said. "When I was there [on Saturday], we talked about the four of us rooming together. I feel like there's a bond that's coming together, but I have been focused on my season so I haven't really been up there as much as they have."

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