Dinkins Played Key Recruiting Role

Elijah Hood might have kept it flowing – and in a major way -- but it was Robert Dinkins that started the pipeline between Charlotte to Chapel Hill within the 2014 class.

"When I first came into the recruiting process, I was like a lot of guys – I wanted to go where the glitter and fame was," Dinkins said. "But it just means so much to keep the talent inside North Carolina – you have to make your state good. Look at Florida and Texas, if you live in Florida, you play in Florida, you stay in Florida. That's the way it should be with North Carolina and it starts with the best area for talent – Charlotte."

Once Hood de-committed from Notre Dame, no one worked harder to secure his verbal commitment outside of UNC's coaching staff than Dinkins, a 6-foot-1, 241-pound defensive end from Charlotte (N.C.) Olympic.

"It's huge," Dinkins said. "It's what everybody is talking about. It's just good to have a good recruiting class so that you'll play with good guys. It's definitely awesome and I thank God that we got him. That makes our class that much stronger."

Dinkins wasn't always sold on the notion of adding Hood to UNC's commitment list.

"At first I had sour feelings about it because he was coming from Notre Dame and I was like ‘Is he really true?'" Dinkins said. "I had that feeling like ‘Is he interested in Carolina and if he commits [to UNC] will he de-commit later?'"

Dinkins's questions were answered during a phone conversation with Hood a couple of days following his de-commitment from Notre Dame.

"We were on the phone for a while," Dinkins said. "We were talking about his family and how he felt Notre Dame wasn't the right move for him. So I got a good vibe during that phone call conversation."

With Charlotte Catholic playing the following Saturday night, Dinkins along with fellow pledge UNC Cayson Collins attended the game to show Hood their support. A few days later, Dinkins learned that Hood officially committed to the Tar Heels.

"I was in class, I think I was in third period and Cayson texted me," Dinkins said. "He said ‘You know Elijah Hood committed?' I couldn't get to any source to check it. When I went to practice, sure enough my coach was talking about it."

When he realized the rumors were true, Dinkins said he had to pinch himself.

"When I went to see [Hood] play – and I've been on the same field as him and seen him on film – but it's different in-person," Dinkins said. "He's an awesome running back hands down, there's no question about it. I was definitely psyched to have him – that's for sure."

Dinkins made his latest visit to UNC on Saturday for the Tar Heels' home opener against Middle Tennessee.

"It was another good visit," Dinkins said. "For the most part, I'm pretty much familiar with everything there. The biggest thing for me is seeing the friends I have in Chapel Hill, who are players. It wasn't really a big game, but I was there to support my team."

During the game, Dinkins's focus was the Bandit and defensive end positions, the two positions he's likely to play at UNC.

"Any time I'm there, I'm definitely watching those guys just to see what they do, what I can do better, what I can bring, what they bring – all of that stuff," Dinkins said. "That Bandit position and the way the defense is set up, you can't help but make plays at that position. You're just like an animal, because you have free roam off the edge [and opponents] don't really know what to expect from that position."

UNC's starting Bandit, Norkeithus Otis, is living proof. Otis is leading the ACC in sacks and tackles for a loss.

Besides the game, Dinkins spent time in the locker room with D-linemen Junior Gnonkonde and Jessie Rogers.

"I look up to those guys," Dinkins said. "Those are the guys that are going to take me under their wings when I'm there. I'm going to try to learn everything I can from those guys."

Dinkins plans to return to Chapel Hill for the football game against East Carolina. He's trying to make that an overnight visit. He also figures to attend "Zero Dark Thursday" against Miami, despite it being a school night.

"It's going to be tough, because I have to play the next day and I'll have to come right after practice on Thursday," Dinkins said. "But I've already told my dad that whatever I have to do, I'm going to do, because I'm not going to miss that game – that's for sure."

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