“When I got my offer from [UNC] it came from Coach [Larry] Fedora himself. That really meant a lot and that really boosted them up. [Former Auburn High head coach] Coach [Tim] Carter is really good friends with Coach Kap [Chris Kapilovic]. I think that they’ve been the most honest team with me throughout my whole recruitment. I just felt like you can’t pass up an opportunity like that when somebody wants you that bad, has the quality of education that they have, and the situation that I’ll be walking into.”
At the Nike Opening Regional, you didn’t hide your UNC fondness, but you were approaching your recruitment with an open mind. What changed the past couple of weeks?
“I wanted to make a commitment before my senior year to help build some hype for my teammates and my high school… I’ve just been praying about it and it came out to be North Carolina. For me, I had thought about [committing] really heavily one weekend, but I just really wanted to talk with them to see where their hearts are and get a good genuine feel about it. I got a good genuine feel about it [during my conversation with UNC’s coaches]. And the next thing I know, I announced on Monday.”
Heading into your phone conversation with the UNC coaches on Monday was your intention to make a verbal commitment?
“Part of it was I had the intent to commit, because I had been thinking about it really hard. I had [Twitter direct messaged] with both Coach Kap and Coach Fedora, and I had asked them ‘What if I had wanted to go ahead and pull the trigger and commit?’ I talked to my parents and my family as a whole and we just decided it was the best situation for me.”
What was Fedora’s and Kapilovic’s reaction when you actually committed?
“Coach Kap, he kind of knew it was coming close. I think he kind of figured that I wanted to commit. But Coach Fedora, he was ecstatic. He said, ‘We finally have someone that we can build our offensive line around.’”
You mentioned the situation you’re walking into at UNC. Elaborate on that.
“The situation I’ll be walking into, Coach Kap told me, they have a lot of [offensive] lineman, but he really sees something in me – he really sees something special in me and he feels I can be a very special player and hopefully I’ll be able to make it into the [National Football] League. The situation I’m walking into when I come out they’re going to have two seniors in front of me – a red-shirt senior and a senior – at that right guard spot. And I’ve been working on my snapping, as well, so I can play any position on the offensive line. I might have to red-shirt, but Coach Kap really does feel like I can play.
“There’s been some talk about enrolling early, but I don’t know yet. I’m still evaluating that with my family and we’ll see what happens.”
One of the surprising aspects of your decision is that you committed without visiting the school. How did you compensate for that?
“My dream is to go three years of college ball and head off to the [NFL] Draft… But, if I end up spending five years there, I have people down here at Auburn and Birmingham, where I’m originally from, that have told me ‘Hey, North Carolina is a really good school. You’ll love it there.’ It really didn’t register until I went ahead and researched some things myself in terms of academics and things like that. They have my major and they actually have a pretty darn good rank for my major, which is early childhood education. I want to teach younger kids.”
When will you make your first visit to UNC?
“We’re going up there next weekend [April 25]. I should be there that Friday and then be up bright and early Saturday so that I can spend some time with the staff.”
What are you hoping to learn during this visit?
“I know how the coaching staff is. I want to go in and tour the academics. I want to get down into and get talking about my major. I think my major and what vibe I get from the campus are going to be important. I want to see the facilities. I’m just excited to check it out.”
How firm is your commitment?
“I’m 100-percent a Tar Heel. I’m going to be a Tar Heel from now and until Signing Day. All I have to say is ‘Heel Up.’”