Ratliffe Has ‘Awesome' Experience

Jaylend Ratliffe was momentarily speechless when attempting to discuss his recent visit to North Carolina for a Junior Day in February.

"It was awesome," Ratliffe said. "From the time I got out of the car until the time I left, it was awesome."

Ratliffe, a 6-foot-1, 198-pounder from Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland County, struggled to explain why the visit was "awesome."

"I don't know," Ratliffe said with a laugh. "I don't know. I don't know. Once I got out the car, we got on a golf cart. As soon as they drove us down, it was like I was a superstar. They had cameras and all sorts of stuff. I think it was something only [Larry] Fedora could think of. It was just awesome."

Ratliffe experienced the event with his mother and Richard Bailey, Scotland's head coach. All three are UNC fans. Thus, the Tar Heels' electrifying victory over archrival Duke was quite a treat.

"That was great," Ratliffe said. "My mom and I were amazed the whole game. We were kind of mad when we first got there because we noticed everybody was standing up the entire game so we realized we had to stand up just to watch the game. So we stood up to watch the whole game. It was crazy. We were all Carolina fans so we were jumping and hollering for North Carolina. Then they beat Duke in the last two minutes of the game and you see everybody storming the court. Half of the recruits were storming the court. Coach Bailey was telling me not to storm the court because he was ready to go home because it was so late. It was fun"

Heeding Bailey's advice, Ratliffe remained in the stands.

"I wasn't going out there," Ratliffe said. "I probably wouldn't have found my way back to Laurinburg."

Throughout the junior day, Ratliffe had conversations with assistant coaches Keith Heckendorf, Vic Koenning, and Seth Littrell.

"Coach Littrell never puts pressure on me," Ratliffe said. "He says all schools are great schools. He said he's not going to badmouth another school. He told me to go to the school that's best for me and that's going to fit me for what I want to be when I grow up, because I'm not going to be a football player forever. He said to focus on the degree I'm going to get."

Heckendorf, who provided Ratliffe individual coaching during UNC's camp last summer, had a similar message as Littrell.

Koenning, on the other hand, takes a more tongue-in-cheek approach to recruiting Ratliffe.

"Him and Coach Bailey are real cool with each other," Ratliffe said. "He says, ‘Man, when are you going to commit? Get off your lazy butt.' But he's just joking with me."

Unsurprisingly, Ratliffe says the junior day experience makes him like UNC even more than before.

"I was invited out of so many people," Ratliffe said. "And just to see that atmosphere and see that basketball game makes me like Carolina more."

UNC is one of five schools to have offered Ratliffe a scholarship. Duke, Georgia Tech, NC State, and Wake Forest round out the remainder of his offer list.

Though he basically admitted that he has a favorite school, Ratliffe won't reveal its identity until he actually makes a verbal commitment. Originally, he was targeting making a commitment three games into his senior season. Now, he's torn on when to pull the trigger.

"I may wait [longer] or I may just go ahead and commit," Ratliffe said. "I don't know."

Outside of returning to Fedora's Freak Show this summer, Ratliffe doesn't have any firm recruiting travel plans. He does hope to make spring and summer visits to Georgia Tech with his mother, as well as trips to Duke and NC State.

Ratliffe, who stars at quarterback for Scotland County, still hasn't received much clarity on the position UNC projects him to play.

"I want to play quarterback, but I'm a winner so I'm going to do whatever it takes to help the team win," Ratliffe said. "So if they want me to go out there and play kicker, I'll kick the ball."

Georgia Tech and N.C. State have made it clear that they are recruiting Ratliffe as a quarterback.

"Whether I'm recruited to play quarterback has an effect on [my decision], but it's not a big part because a lot of people have their position changed when they get to the college level," Ratliffe said. "A.J. Blue played quarterback in high school and they changed him to running back and he's one of the best in the conference. It will have something to do with [my decision]. If I have to switch positions, it doesn't matter because I'm going to be the best at whatever I play."

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