"He's a coach's dream," Albemarle head coach Seth Smith said. "He's one of those kids that's first in the locker room every day, first on the practice field, last one off, does what he's supposed to do in the classroom, and just one of those quiet leaders. He doesn't say a lot, because [his teammates] know he's the leader of the football team.
"On the football field, he's a player you better plan for. When an offense puts out its game plan, they have to be conscience of where he is on the field. He's a big-time impact player. On the high school level, he's hard to handle – he really is. He can move, he's big, [and] he's strong."
Autry busted out the gates as a freshman and was named a MaxPreps.com Freshman All-American. That season, he accumulated 130 tackles (75 solo) including three sacks.
Autry bettered his stat line the following season with 152 tackles, five sacks, four pass break-ups, and two fumble receivers.
This coming season, Albemarle is switching its defense from ‘60-front,' a system it has played for over two decades, to a 4-3 scheme. With that switch, Autry will have the opportunity to line up anywhere along the D-line, including end.
"When our opponents are game planning, they're not going to know exactly where he's going to be," Smith said. "We think him coming off the edge is tough for an [offensive] tackle to handle, just because of his agility and how he moves and then his power on top of that."
North Carolina is the lone school to have offered Autry, but several schools have expressed interest including Clemson, Duke, NC State, and Wake Forest.
"All the ACC schools have been here inquiring about him," Smith said. "All of them have invited him up for visits."
According to Smith, no other school has invested more resources into Autry than UNC, specifically area recruiter Chris Kapilovic.
"I think the North Carolina coaching staff has done a great job of recruiting him," Smith said. "They have really put in the time – I would say more than anybody else.
"If I had to bet – I don't know what's going to happen – but I think [UNC] is the direction he's leaning, just because of how comfortable he feels with the staff up there."
Autry doesn't hide the fact that he's leaning towards UNC.
"I feel like Carolina wants me – they really want me," Autry said. "Everybody tells me to choose what is comfortable to me and Carolina is comfortable to me. If my Signing Day was today, I'd choose North Carolina."
Despite possessing a leader, Autry is in no rush to make a verbal commitment. He anticipates waiting until his senior season.
Besides the interest UNC has shown, contributing to Autry's comfort level is the vast amount of visits he's made to Chapel Hill. He attended three games last season – including the thrilling victory over NC State – and has made countless unofficial trips.
"He would go when R.J. [Prince] was being recruited and that's kind of how this whole process started," Smith said. "But [Autry's] mom, dad, Coach Hamilton, me – we've all been up there with him. So he's been up there a lot of times.
"To me, being recruited is about how comfortable you feel. I think right now he feels at home up there. He looks to find a way to get up there any time he can."
Speaking of Prince, Autry admits that having his former teammate and close friend on the roster amplifies his feelings towards UNC.
Autry's most recent visit to Chapel Hill occurred in July for Fedora's Freak Show.
"I liked playing on the game field," Autry said. "It felt like I was a college player. It felt good."
The elite camp offered Autry his first chance to work out under the tutelage of Keith Gilmore, UNC's defensive line coach.
"He's an up-tempo, ready-to-go, do-it-now coach," Autry said of Gilmore. "He has that attitude of ‘We don't have time to sit around, let's do it now.'"
During fall Saturdays, Autry plans to be a regular at Kenan Stadium. The contest he most has his eyes on is the "Blackout" game against Miami.
Autry has yet to visit any other school. Thus, he hopes to attend games at Georgia and Florida State this season.
Autry grew up a UNC fan… Autry's older brother, DeNico, is a senior defensive lineman at Mississippi State… Outside of football, Autry is a member of Albemarle's basketball and track teams.