“That’s my top school right now,” Fox said. “So I just wanted to get to know the coaches better and get to talk to them again.”
Approximately 35 schools have offered Fox, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end from Collins Hill High School. So what has attributed to UNC’s rise to the top?
“I just like the coaching staff, the type of defense they have, [and] they’ve already told me where they see me as,” Fox said. “They’re going to use a strong end [in their defense], but I’ll be their quick end on the other side.”
Kevin Reach, Collins Hill’s head football coach, believes that’s a perfect positional fit for his star edge rusher.
“He’s an explosive player,” Reach said. “As a sophomore, he led Gwinnett County in sacks. He’s a great pass rusher… He’s physical, loves the weight room, great character kid, does well in the classroom – he’s kind of the epitome of what we look for at Collins Hill in a football player.
“He’s a great teammate, too. He was a team captain as a junior last year – I think I’ve done that only twice in the last ten years. The one thing that I noticed is our younger kids see how hard he’s working in the offseason and they’re trying to stay with him.”
A potentially significant advantage is brewing for UNC in its pursuit of Fox – that is close friend Donta Evans. Fox and Evans were actually born in the same town, Orangeburg, S.C., and currently train at Georgia Sports Performance together. While they’re not a package deal, they both list UNC among their favorite schools.
“We said it would be cool if we were able to play with each other,” Fox said. “We would have someone that we know to play with [and] to go to college with. So, yeah, we’re probably thinking about [attending the same school]. Like, if I were to go to North Carolina, that might make him lean toward North Carolina more.”
Although he hasn’t eliminated any school from contention, Fox possesses a top three schools list consisting of Georgia Tech and Tennessee, as well as UNC. The Yellow Jackets and Volunteers only have a few months to catch the Tar Heels since he’s looking at a summer verbal commitment.
Fox made his first visit to UNC last October for the football game against Virginia Tech.
“It was a cool experience,” Fox said. “It gave me a chance to see what the atmosphere is like during game time [and] what it would be like to be a player there. And I liked it.”
In late January, Fox returned to Chapel Hill for UNC’s Junior Day for a more all-encompassing view on the school.
“It was surprising how nice the campus was and what the facilities were like,” Fox said. “That was a shocker to me.
“It was also a chance to see all the coaches for the first time, especially the newer ones since Ron West left and Coach [Gene] Chizik came. They have a whole new [defensive] staff.”
Spending time with the coaches was paramount for Fox. In a manner of months, UNC changed the coach responsible for recruiting Gwinnett County, its defensive coordinator, and eventually its defensive line coach as well.
“It’s been different since I built a relationship with Ron West and we used to talk every week,” Fox said. “But the new coaches like me the same – if not a little bit more. I like the new coaches, too.”
Charlton Warren (pictured with Fox at Junior Day at right) has replaced West as UNC’s Gwinnett County recruiter.
“I’ve known Charlton for a while now, because he has recruited Gwinnett County at other schools,” Reach said. “I enjoy when he comes in, because he’s very energetic.”
Reach also has a lengthy relationship with Chizik, UNC’s new defensive coordinator. During Chizik’s tenure as Auburn’s head coach, Reach would bring his players to the Tigers’ team camp.
“I think UNC will be a great place for Tomon if that’s what he’s interested in doing,” Reach said.
Although Warren now handles his recruitment, Fox’s interaction with UNC isn’t limited to a single coach.
“I talk to all of them,” Fox said. “I try to keep in touch with all of them. I talk to Coach [Larry] Fedora, Coach Chizik – I talk to all of them. They tell me they really want me to come. I’m like there No. 1 guy right now.”
Additionally, the defensive credentials Chizik brings to UNC impresses Fox.
“He’s a great coach who knows what he’s doing,” Fox said. “He builds his defenses really well. I see he has everything planned out even with the next upcoming recruits.”
UNC’s new defensive line coach, Tray Scott, wasn’t present – or even hired – during any of Fox’s visits. But Fox has had phone conversations with his potential position coach.
“He seems like an energetic coach,” Fox said. “He seems like he’ll get me right.”
Earlier this month, Fox was among an exclusive bunch to attend UNC’s unique Junior Day event.
“That was different,” Fox said. “I expected it to be an average junior day with a tour. But that was more like an effort for the recruits and the coaches to bond. We had a tournament with corn hole and ping-pong. It was just fun. It shows that the coaching staff knows how to have fun a little bit and they have a lot of energy”
Fox was paired with Evans for the corn hole tournament.
The junior day concluded with the UNC-Duke basketball game.
“That was a crazy atmosphere,” Fox said. “Everybody was loud. There were a lot more people than I expected, too. Some people had to stand up – they didn’t even get chairs. But I liked it a lot.”
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