Four-Star Sees Football Side of UNC

During a visit to North Carolina last Tuesday, Sterling Johnson had a 45-minute meeting with Larry Fedora.

"He talked about the three phases of trying to make a better man – spiritually, academically, and maturity," the four-star defensive tackle said.

Just as impactful, Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 267-pounder from Clayton (N.C.) Cleveland, says Fedora offered him a scholarship.

"I was excited," Johnson said. "I thought, ‘It was about time' considering all the other local schools have been recruiting me and North Carolina kind of came in late. But it was a good feeling."

Sixteen schools have now offered Johnson. That group is highlighted by Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Mississippi, and Texas.

The tardiness of UNC's offer doesn't help the Tar Heels' chances.

"It doesn't necessarily hurt them," Johnson said. "But I definitely would have looked at them a lot harder if they would have offered earlier. So I guess in a sense it sort of hurt. I mean, they still have a chance."

There's still plenty of time for UNC to make up the lost ground. Johnson doesn't claim any favorite schools and won't name a list until April.

"I'll have to make a couple more visits and then I can start to narrow it down," Johnson said.

In addition to UNC, Johnson has visited Clemson, East Carolina, Florida State, NC State, and Virginia Tech. He is scheduled to visit Alabama on March 1 and South Carolina March 29. He's also in the process of scheduling spring trips to Florida, Florida State, and Tennessee.

An advantage that UNC might have over other schools is that Johnson's mother works in the pharmaceutical department of the school.

"That doesn't really matter," Johnson said. "[My parents] both said they'd rather me stay close, but they also know that other better opportunities are out of state."

Although his mother works at the school, Johnson hadn't received a chance to fully explore the football side of UNC until Tuesday's visit.

"We toured the campus, the academic center part, the locker rooms, and the weight room," Johnson said. "I've seen better, but their facilities are really nice."

Johnson's stay also included spending time with Keith Gilmore, UNC's defensive line coach. Johnson worked out under Gilmore's tutelage during the Tar Heels' camp last summer.

"He's a great teacher," Johnson said. "He showed me some film during the visit. The scheme resembles a lot of my high school's."

Johnson ended his junior campaign with 80 tackles, including 51 for a loss and eight sacks. He also forced three fumbles.

Sterling Johnson Profile

Inside Carolina Top Stories