Heels Add Kicker

North Carolina landed its kicker of the future during Saturday's Junior Day.

"During a speech in the locker room, Coach [Larry] Fedora gave everybody a spot on the team," Freeman Jones said. "And then, I was just really feeling the atmosphere and the whole family thing they had going, so I decided to go ahead and do it. We watched a video while we were on the field [of Kenan Stadium] before we got on the bus to go to the [basketball] game. After we watched the video, we were walking across the field and I did it right then."

Fedora was more than excited to accept the pledge.

"Coach Fedora's reaction was nothing short of what I expected it to be," Jones said. "He had his arm around me already and when I told him he just started jumping up and down. He about knocked me over and tackled me. He was definitely excited."

Jones is the only recruit to have attended all three of UNC's junior days. The 6-foot, 180-pounder from Bunn (N.C.) credits those experiences for his verbal commitment.

"The more I was around the coaches, the more I kind of fell in love with them," Jones said. "They're all great guys – I love them all. It seemed like a place I want to be the next four years."

Additionally, by attended all three, Jones was truly able to see how different Saturday's junior day was.

"The other two I went to, I don't want to say they were boring because they were real informative," Jones said. "But this one really got all the recruits involved and made me feel like I was a part of what was going on. I wouldn't say that one part stood out, but the whole thing was exciting. It was definitely unique, because I can't see any other school going out of their way so much just to get a couple of laughs out of their recruits. They told me beforehand it was going to be different and it was going to be a lot of fun and to make sure I enjoyed myself."

The unique experience began as soon as Jones stepped foot on campus. He, like the other junior day attendees, walked a Carolina Blue carpet that led to the football building where they were "interviewed" by members of the coaching staff.

"The Carolina Blue carpet set the tone for the day," Jones said. "They asked me who my designer was for my outfit. I couldn't give an answer, but I probably should have said my mom. They asked me if I could compare my kicking game to anybody in the [National Football] League, who would it be and I told them nobody because I'm in my own league."

The junior day also included a corn hole tournament in the players' lounge where Jones, who was paired with Trevion Thompson, reached the finals.

"I slipped up and they took advantage of my team when that happened," Jones said.

The UNC-Duke basketball game capped the junior day festivities.

"The atmosphere was definitely great," Jones said. "To be honest, I've only been to one college basketball game and that was when I was eight at [N.C.] State.

"When we walked across the court [Saturday], you could feel all the energy that the fans had – it was unbelievable – especially in the student section. I was thinking, ‘If this many people are going crazy right now, I wonder what it's going to be like during a Saturday football game.' I heard that the fans, especially the students, get pretty crazy during football games."

Throughout the day, Jones spent the most time with Luke Paschall, a graduate assistant who handles UNC's kickers.

"[Saturday our conversations] were more casual, especially because of the atmosphere," Jones said. "It was a very laidback conversation yesterday."

Jones got to speak more with Paschall and the rest of UNC's coaching staff during the February junior day.

"I was told that I would start for four years, but I'm not going to walk in and expect that," Jones said. "I know I'm going to have to work for it.

"Other than that, they said they're looking for me to kick that ball through the uprights and that's what I'm going to do."

Jones' original plan was to attend a lot of college camps this summer. He says that is no longer the case.

"The plan now is to go to the Carolina camp and enjoy Carolina," Jones said. "I don't have any interest to look anywhere else."

As a sophomore, Jones was a perfect 32-of-32 on extra point attempts and converted two of his five field goals with a long of 38.

His progression showed during his junior season. He converted 52-of-54 extra points (96-percent) and 8-of-10 field goals (80-percent) with a long of 47. He also helped Bunn's defense in the field position battle, booting over 83 percent of his 74 kickoffs for touchbacks.


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