Recruiting Storylines: UNC vs UVa

Revisiting the North Carolina-Virginia recruiting stories that will play a role in Saturday's matchup.

The recruiting trail wasn’t responsible for T.J. Thorpe’s allegiance late career swap in the 'South’s Oldest Rivalry.' But, it has sent several players to North Carolina as opposed to Virginia and vice versa.

North Carolina

Jeremiah Clarke

Class of ’14, Alexandria (Va.) Williams, 4-star, No. 11 DE

Heading into the summer of his senior year, Clark reduced his list of schools under consideration to six – Miami, UNC, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wake Forest. A day after visiting the last of those – Tennessee – he verbally committed to UNC.

After red-shirting last year, Clarke has played in all six games this season, while starting two at defensive tackle. On the year, he has 15 tackles (4 solo), including 1.0 for a loss.

Jon Heck

Class of ’12, Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles, 3-star, No. 105 OT

Almost ten years after living in Charlottesville during his father’s tenure on the Cavs coaching staff, Virginia became the first school to offer Heck. UNC followed suit shortly thereafter. Following summer visits to both programs, Heck decided he wanted to spend his college days in Chapel Hill.

As a red-shirt freshman, Heck started all 13 games of the 2013 season at right tackle. Although an injury halted that streak three games into 2014, he has started 30 total games for UNC.

Brad Henson

Class of ’13, Toms River (N.J.) Monsignor Donovan, 3-star, No. 25 OG

In June ’12, Henson verbally committed to Virginia over finalists Miami, UNC, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. But, contact with UNC never ceased, which led to a “secret” official visit the following December. Before his plane departed RDU, Hanson had made the calls necessary to execute the flip from UVa to UNC.

Although listed as UNC’s back-up right guard, Henson is capable of playing all three interior O-line positions. That versatility has allowed him to play in 18 games – including all six this year – the past two seasons.


Quin Blanding

Class of ’14, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside, 5-star, No. 3 S

Due to his high profile, much of Blanding’s recruitment took place during his sophomore and junior years. As such, less than a month after the 2013 class was signed, he pledged to Virginia over finalists Florida State, UNC, and Ohio State.

A 2014 Freshman All-American, Blanding has started all 18 games at free safety for UVa the past two seasons. He finished his true freshman season second in the ACC (and 12th nationally) with 123 tackles while also intercepting three passes. He has picked up where he left off this year with 48 tackles in six games.

Demetrious Nicholson

Class of ’11, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside, 4-star, No. 3 CB

For a good portion of his recruitment, Nicholson appeared destined for UNC. But the staff’s aggressive approach backfired – it pushed him away from Chapel Hill and to Virginia shortly after his senior football season.

Nicholson started all 25 games at cornerback in 2011 and 2012, but injuries have forced him to miss portions of each of the past three seasons. In 36 games, has compiled 154 tackles and four interceptions.

Jay Whitmire

Class of ’11, Alexandria (Va.) Williams, 3-star, No. 30 OT

Whitmire never officially revealed a favorite schools list prior to his Virginia commitment in November ‘10. However, he spoke highly of UNC throughout his recruitment and visited Chapel Hill a handful of times.

Following a red-shirt year, Whitmire appeared in all 24 games in 2012 and 2013 with four starts, but missed the entire 2014 season with a back injury. He has appeared in all six games this season and has started the past two (and is projected to start Saturday) at right guard.

Current Class

Uncharacteristically, UNC and Virginia haven’t clashed much during the 2016 cycle. The lone true battle was Nolan DeFranco. After visiting both schools in mid-June, he pledged to the Tar Heels.

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