Carney, Clarke Eager To Compete

Inside Carolina traveled to Alexandria, Va. to visit T.C. Williams High School, home of UNC commitments Malik Carney and Jeremiah Clarke.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. --- Seemingly one of the last people to find out that his teammate Malik Carney had joined him on North Carolina's commitment list was Jeremiah Clarke.

"I woke up on a Sunday morning and I had a [message] from Coach [Walt] Bell]," Clarke said. "He was like ‘Good job!' I was like, ‘On what?' He was like, ‘On Malik.' I called Malik and asked him, ‘You committed?' He was like ‘Yes.' I was like ‘When did that happen?'"

Despite being teammates and close friends, Carney purposely kept Clarke in the dark.

"I was teasing him a little bit," Carney said. "We talked a lot about our top schools, so he knew and I knew what our top choices were. But once he committed, I wanted to mess with him a little bit."

Additionally, Carney (pictured at right) didn't want to give Clarke the joy of believing his recruiting efforts had any affect on the decision.

"I was texting him, calling him, and yelling out ‘UNC' when I saw him down the hall," Clarke said. "I kept yelling it out, bothering him, sending him texts, showing him pictures of UNC – just making sure he makes the right decision.

"I was trying to get him to go [to UNC] every day, because he's like my best friend – so why not have your best friend go to the same school as you? When you already know somebody down there, it will only make the experience better."

Similar to Carney, Clarke didn't let anyone – including his best friend – know where he was leaning or when he was going to make his decision – primarily because he didn't know himself.

"Everybody had me going to Penn State or Virginia," Clarke said. "But I barely knew."

What Clarke did know was he wanted to visit Tennessee before committing anywhere. Shortly after his visit to Knoxville, it hit him and he committed to UNC.

"I called Coach [Bell] and ran upstairs and told my parents and they were excited," Clarke said. "My mom was like ‘What just happened?' It was one of those moments where I didn't know when it was going to happen. It was just going to come to me and it did.

"I love the state of North Carolina," Clarke said. "I just think I can be down there for a while. It was either [UNC] or Penn State, and I was having an argument in my head about all the different schools. But I just said ‘Forget it, I'm going to North Carolina.' I couldn't see myself in (Pennsylvania). And there was a lot of rumors going around about Penn State."

Carney had a similar epiphany. His moment occurred while vacationing with his friends in Ocean City.

"That Friday, I was thinking about my top two choices – Tennessee and North Carolina," Carney said. "The next morning, I woke up, ate breakfast, and I started listening to Wale. It just hit me. I just felt like that was the school."

Based on the end result, it's easy to come to the conclusion that Carney and Clarke were a package deal.

"Actually, we had no intentions of going to the same school," Carney said.

"We wanted to go to opposite schools in the same conference so we could play each other," Clarke said.

That mentality might seem strange without an understanding of Carney's and Clarke's relationship.

"We're just competitors," Clarke said. "In practice [at T.C.], we go after each other. It's fun going against Malik."

While both have and will continue to play multiple positions on both sides of the ball for Williams High, UNC projects both as defensive players, which will limit the practice competition opportunities between the two.

"The one thing about these two kids – and I told Larry Fedora about this when we were down there for the [7-on-7 tournament] – is you're not going to have to worry about these two kids pouting about where you tell them to play," said head coach Dennis Randolph.

Specifically, UNC sees Clarke as a defensive tackle.

"He's very quick, aggressive, and strong," Randolph said. "He's a big body, good frame, and he moves well for his size. He's going to do whatever UNC needs him to do."

Meanwhile, Carney is being brought in as a linebacker, though it hasn't been determined if he'll play middle or weak-side.

"He runs well enough to play outside, but he's strong enough and big enough to play inside," Randolph said. "He's going to move around for us – he'll play end, linebacker.

"He's a very aggressive defensive player. All the colleges were recruiting him as a linebacker, but for us he's going to be an outstanding running back… He's big and he's tall and he runs really well. He's a leader. He's in on lots of plays – I don't know how many tackles he had in the scrimmage the other day, but it seemed like he had every tackle. He's learning to read better. He's going to be a good college linebacker."

Both Carney and Clarke said that their primary contact with UNC remains Bell, who recruits northern Virginia for UNC. However, Clarke added that communication with Keith Gilmore, the Tar Heels' defensive line coach, has increased recently.

Carney and Clarke plan to be at several UNC homes games this fall, but are unsure which ones. They also have been toying with the idea of making it down to Columbia for UNC's season opener against South Carolina.


Clarke

Malik Carney
Jeremiah Clarke


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