Lawler Feels Wanted at UNC

The Tar Heel staff's blitz for defensive end Jake Lawler is underway.

WAXHAW, N.C. --- Just before preseason practice began, Jake Lawler returned to North Carolina – about a month after the 2017 defensive end earned a UNC scholarship offer at camp.

“It was great,” the 6-foot-2, 219-pound defensive end from Charlotte (N.C.) South Mecklenburg said. “It was more relaxed.”

Lawler’s Chapel Hill stay included lunch at Top of the Hill and plenty of face time with UNC’s coaches.

“The junior day and the first visit was all a big show, but now it’s kind of toned down,” Lawler said. “They know that they want me, they know who I am, and they’re just talking normally with me, like I’m a regular guy.”

Specifically, “they” are defensive coordinator Gene Chizik and defensive line coach Tray Scott.

“Chizik and Tray Scott have been adamant about me coming to North Carolina,” Lawler said.

“That’s great, especially coming from a defensive mastermind like Chizik and a great coach like Scott. Knowing that they want me to come play for their team is great.”

In particular, Chizik and Scott want Lawler to play the “speed” defensive end position within UNC’s 4-3 defensive scheme. After playing three-technique as a sophomore, Lawler has moved to strong-side end this season. Under normal circumstances, he’d line up on the weak-side, but South Meck has a senior FBS prospect, Zack Gilbert, manning that position this fall.

Since UNC offered in June, Lawler’s scholarship list has remained unchanged. Six schools have offered: Charlotte, Duke, NC State, UNC, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.

“Clemson is turning it up like a lot,” Lawler said.

Although Lawler has a very unique connection to UNC – both his parents not only graduated from the school, they met on campus – the Tar Heels are co-leaders with rival Duke.

“It’s still the same, because I took a Duke visit way after and that was incredible,” Lawler said. “But Carolina was definitely a great visit – it was a great visit.”

When the two Tobacco Road rivals battle on Nov. 7, Lawler plans to be in Kenan Stadium. He’s also considering attending another yet-to-be-determined UNC game. The next time he attends a Tar Heel football game will be his first.

“I just want to see the atmosphere and see how the coaches coach game days,” Lawler said. “I want to see how Chizik and Scott put the defense in position to make plays.”

Lawler is also looking into visiting Duke, NC State, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest for games.

Lawler’s junior season began on Friday with a 28-17 victory over Waxhaw Marvin Ridge. Lawler contributed to the winning effort with three sacks and eight tackles.

“I think it was a big team effort,” Lawler said. “Our inside guys helped get free, making the quarterback scramble, and putting him right in my hands.”

Lawler didn’t accumulate the above stat line against a slouch. For much of the contest, he lined up across from D’mitri Emmanuel, a fellow FBS prospect from the 2017 class.

“He’s a good player,” Lawler said. “He’s sound mentally [and] he’s sound technically. So you’ve got to do a couple of moves to get him off. It was a good challenge.”


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