Don Callahan/Inside Carolina

Jake Lawler Feels Like UNC Priority

North Carolina needs edge pass rushers. That's Jake Lawler's specialty.

For his North Carolina visit on Saturday, Jake Lawler felt he was given the red carpet treatment.

“When I walked in I instantly felt I was one of the top guys that they wanted,” said Lawler, a class of 2017 defensive end. “[Director of High School Relations] Coach [Jason] Tundryn pulled me aside and he took me and my parents to see Coach [Larry] Fedora. We talked to him personally for 5-10 minutes. I thought that was really cool, considering he had a game and his actual players to coach.

“And I talked with most of the coaches. I talked with Coach [Tray] Scott and Coach [Gunter] Brewer. It was crazy to think they were taking so much time to spend with me considering they had a game. I really appreciated that and I feel real comfortable there.”

Fedora covered a wide variety of topics during his meeting with Lawler, a 6-foot-2, 219-pound junior from Charlotte (N.C.) South Mecklenburg.

“First he asked me about my cast [on my right hand] and how it happened,” Lawler said. “And I told him. Before we even got into football, he talked to me about normal stuff. I thought it was really cool that he cares for me more as a person and not only what I can do on the field. He wants to know who I am and what I’m doing off the field.

“After he talked about regular stuff, he kept reiterating his interest in me and why I was one of their top guys for 2017.”

Lawler communicates with Brewer, his primary recruiter, on a near daily basis. Thus, on Saturday the two simply resumed their typical conversation.

However, with Scott, UNC’s defensive line coach, the talk revolved around football.

“He was telling me that he needs that pass rush along the edge,” Lawler said.

An edge pass rusher is exactly what Lawler is. After four games for undefeated South Meck, Lawler has 5.5 sacks (he has 31 total tackles).

Despite having UNC alumni as parents, Saturday was Lawler’s first true game in Kenan Stadium. He attended a game at a very young age, but his focus at that time was not on the field. Saturday, though, he made sure to soak in the atmosphere.

“I thought [the atmosphere] was really good considering it was a noon game and it wasn’t a rivalry game,” Lawler said. “It was good to see that people still go regardless of who they play.

“I can’t wait to go to a later game – an ACC conference game. A lot of those games are going to be bigger and better. I’ll definitely have to come back and make a better [game].”

Lawler evaluated UNC’s defense, while paying close attention to its line.

“I thought the defense played extremely well,” Lawler said. “They made good plays and they’re obviously well coached. The D-line, they did pretty well. They gave up a couple big runs, but that’s expected. But overall, they held them to only 14 points. And the way the D-line aggressively went after the quarterback as well as pushing the pocket and closing off run gaps, I thought they did really well.”

As he mentioned, Lawler hopes to return for an ACC game. Though he doesn’t have any ironclad plans, he’s eying the UNC-Duke rivalry on Nov. 7.

“I’d like to see that atmosphere,” Lawler said. “I think it would just be incredible.”

Additionally, Duke happens to be tied atop Lawler’s leaderboard with UNC.

“[Duke and UNC] are different programs, but they’re showing me love equally,” Lawler said. “I’m still pretty open in terms of having a top spot. But in terms of one of them eclipsing the other, I’m not for sure, yet. They’re both about equal still.”

This Saturday, Lawler will attend his first game in Wallace Wade Stadium as Duke hosts ACC Coastal Division rival Georgia Tech.

Earlier this season, Lawler attended games at Virginia Tech (loss to Ohio State) and Tennessee (loss to Oklahoma).

Initially, Lawler planned to make a verbal commitment next summer. He has moved up his decision timeframe to shortly after this football season.

“I really don’t want to wait that long anymore, considering I want to focus on my senior season,” Lawler said.

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