"They said they were excited to have me and I'm excited to be back. I knew in my heart that Chapel Hill was where I wanted to be, without question."
Linton committed to then-head coach Butch Davis in 2009 and signed with the Tar Heels out of Charlotte (N.C.) Christian as part of the 2010 recruiting class.
He enrolled at UNC that summer and began training camp, but after being selected in the 14th round (No. 421 overall) of the Major League Baseball Draft by Arizona, Linton withdrew from UNC and accepted a $1.25 million signing bonus from Arizona, which was able to offer first-round level money when it did not sign its first-round selection.
Having now retired from baseball, Linton will enroll at UNC in January with four season of eligibility. As part of his Arizona contract, the Diamondbacks organization will pay for his college education and he'll thus be a walk-on at UNC.
Linton learned Monday from UNC that the final details of the situation with Arizona have been completed.
"I wanted to make sure all the details were sorted out with the Diamondbacks" Linton said. "There were basically a few small things that I wanted to make sure were taken care of. There was a lot of back and forth with the [UNC] staff and [Arizona] to make sure everything worked out perfectly."
Now 22 years old, Linton is sporting a 6-foot-2, 228-pound frame. The UNC coaching staff projects him to play WILL linebacker within its 4-2-5 defensive scheme. He received an in-person view of the defense on Saturday when attending the UNC-Old Dominion game.
"I liked how the ‘backers were playing in open space," Linton said. "It's different, but I like where they're going with it. I've always considered myself a bigger guy that could run a little bit. I think I'll fit in perfectly if you put me in the open space."
Linton also liked the changes UNC has made to improve its game day atmosphere.
"It's awesome," Linton said. "It's a really great atmosphere. It's second to none. That place is always going to be special to me, regardless, but to see what they've done with the facilities, the crowd, and the activities, I can't wait to play there."
Linton hopes to contribute to UNC's football program off the field, also.
"I'm going to be an older guy," Linton said. "Hopefully, I can be a role model for some of the guys coming in and be a mature person that can set examples and be a leader."
On Friday, Linton arrived at UNC and immersed himself in the campus.
"I spent the weekend with Bryn [Renner]," Linton said. "I've known Bryn for a while now and just saw some old friends – Matt Merletti and Casey Barth were up there, too. We watched the game [on Saturday].
"It felt like I was 18 again, honestly. It was the same crew and same group of guys. Those guys are special to me because when I came in they were older than me and took me underneath their wing. They just really took care of me when I was up there. It's just a great group of guys. It was awesome to see them again and spend some time with them. It's weird because I spent time away from them, but once I got back with them again, everything clicked and everything fell back into place."