"As a recruit, you get to talk to the coaches and tour around the facilities, like the locker room," said Ratliffe, a 6-foot-1, 198-pound athlete from Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland County . "As a fan, you go in and sit down. As a recruit, you get to go on the field [and] speak to some of the players. Like before the game, I went and spoke to Dominique [Green] and let him know I was there. And [as a recruit], you get to see [the team] come out of the Tar Pit.
"There's a difference, but I've been to Carolina so much that it's not that big of a difference to me."
Ratliffe's previous UNC visits also include the Georgia Tech game last season and two camps this past summer.
During each of his game visits, Ratliffe has been able to get a good look at UNC's no huddle, one-back spread offense.
"[The offense] is fast, but they throw a whole lot more than what we do," Ratliffe said. "I think they would adjust, if I were to go there. They throw a lot of quick passes and a lot of deep passes."
Outside of Ratliffe's changed perspective and UNC's opponent, the most noticeable difference between Saturday's contest and the home-opener was Saturday was Military Appreciation.
"It was cool to go out there to see the field painted red, white, and blue," Ratliffe said. "And then you have people flying in. It was pretty cool. I thought it was awesome."
As the team headed back into the locker room following pregame warm-ups, Blake Anderson, UNC's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach,had a brief conversation with Ratliffe.
"I knew he couldn't text me back, but I sent him a text message just to be funny," Ratliffe said. "When he saw me, he mentioned that text message. I thought that was funny."
Ratliffe communicates regularly with Anderson and Vic Koenning, his primary recruiter. Based on contact with the two, the Tar Heels' staff is still unsure how Ratliffe fits within UNC's roster.
"It's still 'athlete,' but I think they're moving more towards a quarterback now that they've seen what I can do on the field and not just at camps," Ratliffe said. "They've seen that I can do it in front of the lights. But I don't know exactly, because I try not to pay attention to that right now because we're in season and I'm trying to win a state championship."
Both as a fan and a recruit, Ratliffe wasn't happy that UNC lost but says the outcome of the game won't affect his perception of the program.
"It's all right," Ratliffe said. "You win some, you lose some. You're going to have bad games. It's about overcoming the adversity that losing creates. There are going to be bad games every season – it's part of it. But it's how you respond."
Ratliffe is reluctant to name a leader or group of favorites, but UNC remains high on his list.
"All schools are my favorite," Ratliffe said. "I like every school that comes towards me. But Carolina is still one of the top schools, because it's Carolina. They have a great atmosphere, a lot of fan support."
Ratliffe has seen a couple of schools come towards him with scholarship offers recently – Georgia Tech and NC State. He hopes to attend games at both schools by the end of the season.
Ratliffe says he'll definitely return to Chapel Hill for UNC's regular season finale against Duke and is working on plans to attend "Zero Dark Thursday," the Tar Heels' Thursday night game against Miami.