UNC Evaluating N.J. Center

Much of North Carolina's focus during the Spring Evaluation Period is on underclassmen. One of the exceptions is 2015 center prospects, which puts the spotlight on Tommy Hatton these next couple of weeks.

As part of his canvassing of New Jersey this week, Seth Littrell dropped by Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional High School on Monday. During his nearly two-hour stay, Littrell's focus was on Hatton, a 6-foot-2, 280-pounder.

"[Littrell] said that Coach Kap [Chris Kapilovic], the O-line coach, is coming out this Monday coming up," Hatton said. "He was just saying that they need to see me snap in person [before offering], because they need a center really bad and they can't miss on one."

During Littrell's visit on Monday, Hatton solely worked out with his teammates in gym class. When Kapilovic visits next week, Hatton will actually snap. A decision on whether to offer will likely be made at that point.

"It would be cool to get that North Carolina offer," Hatton said. "I know that UNC is obviously a good school and the football team is on the rise right now. So it will be exciting if they offer."

Fifteen schools – including Boston College, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Louisville, Maryland, and South Carolina – have offered Hatton. All 15 project him as a center in college.

UNC's hesitation in offering is due to Hatton's lack of experience at center. He has started at right tackle since his sophomore season. As a junior, he was first team all-state for the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 3 Champions, which also finished the year ranked 17th nationally by USA Today.

Back in February, Hatton embarked on a road trip that consisted of a handful of southern colleges. UNC was a part of his travels.

"All the coaches weren't there – they were on vacation," Hatton said of his UNC visit. "[Director of Player Personnel Rory] Pommerening took us around and Coach Kap came in and talked to us for about an hour. That was cool.

"[Kapilovic] talked about me being a player and definitely earning an offer," Hatton said. "He said they're wanting me for center, but wanted to see me snap so he was going to come up in the spring."

Since that visit, Hatton speaks with Kapilovic and/or Littrell at least once a week. That communication increased to three times a week this past month.

"They're really good guys and really good coaches," Hatton said. "They've put a lot of guys in the NFL Draft."

Besides UNC, Hatton's February school tour included Duke, Georgia Tech, NC State, and South Carolina. He has also visited Boston College, Connecticut, Maryland, Miami, Penn State, and Rutgers.

With an assist from those trips, Maryland and South Carolina have risen above the other schools that have offered Hatton, who is considering making a verbal commitment during The Opening event this summer.

"UNC will be up there once they offer," Hatton said.

"But South Carolina was my first big time offer. They've obviously believed in me since the beginning – that means a lot. They were really loyal to their words and their just good coaches. They recruit me hard and they make me feel needed and wanted.

"And then Maryland, their program is on the rise, obviously. But I really like the school and the proximity to home and their offensive line coach, Coach ‘Stud' [Greg Studrawa]. He's just a really good coach and a really good guy."

Hatton said he is working on scheduling return trips to UNC and South Carolina for June.

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