When the two Tobacco Road rivals meet at high noon on Saturday, any player who had a commitable UNC offer will be sporting Carolina Blue. The opposite sideline, on the other hand, will include several who sought Tar Heel offers that never came.
Class of ’13, Statesville (N.C.), 2-star, No. 150 CB
Although he grew up a UNC fan, it was archrival Duke who gave Borders his only Power 5 (BCS at the time) scholarship offer. And it didn’t take long for him to accept. Before committing, though, he and his three-star teammates Tristan Mumford (East Carolina) and Carlis Parker (Virginia Tech) took a couple visits to Chapel Hill.
Borders has started every game at cornerback for Duke the past two seasons. He has also appeared in 35 straight contests dating back to the 2013 season. This year, he had totaled 31 tackles, an interception, and three pass breakups.
Class of ’14, Mocksville (N.C.) Davie, 3-star, No. 50 OG
Prior to committing to Duke in March of his junior year, McNeill made several visits to UNC, including a pair of games and a junior day. He selected the Blue Devils over offers from East Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest.
After red-shirting last year, McNeill is backing up fifth-year senior Lucas Patrick at left guard this season.
Class of ’12, Shelby (N.C.), 2-star, No. 169 DE
From the jump, Duke recruited Wray harder than any other school. He returned the favor by listing the Blue Devils as his leader for much of his recruitment and then committed the summer prior to his senior year. Although UNC never offered, it received numerous visits from Wray throughout his recruitment.
The past four seasons, Wray has played in 45 games, including 16 starts at defensive end. Thus far this year, he has added 31 tackles to his total, which current stands at 104.
Class of ’13, Charlotte (N.C.) Christian, 4-star, No. 28 S
Early into his recruitment, Lawrence narrowed his focus to four ACC schools – Clemson, Duke, UNC, and NC State. After attending a Tar Heel spring practice, he began contemplating a commitment. A return a week later with his parents pushed him over the edge.
Lawrence has started all eight games this season for UNC at cornerback. On the season, he has compiled 28 tackles and nine pass breakups. During his previous two seasons, he has appeared in 20 games totaling 82 tackles plus an interception.
Class of ’14, Midlothian (Va.) Cosby, 3-star, No. 57 DE
Two days after receiving a UNC offer, Powell committed to UNC sight unseen (he visited campus for the first time a day later). Prior to his commitment, Duke – along with Michigan State, Wake Forest, and West Virginia – was among the schools that had significantly piqued his interest.
Injuries have limited Powell to five games this season. In that short time, he has collected 11 tackles. As a true freshman in 2014, he played in 12 games and finished with 12 stops, including a sack.
Class of ’12, Jacksonville (Fla.) Episcopal, 3-star, No. 57 OLB
It’s difficult to recall Rashad’s recruitment because it ended before it truly began. A day after the 2011 class was inked, he pledged to UNC and remained committed through Butch Davis’s unexpected firing, Everett Withers’s interim tenure, and Larry Fedora’s hiring. Before committing, Duke had offered and he visited and strongly considered the school.
Like Lawrence, Rashad, who converted from Bandit to outside linebacker, has started all eight games this season. He’s third on the team with 54 tackles, including 4.0 for a loss. He also has two interceptions and three forced fumbles. In the three prior seasons, he appeared in 29 games tallying 45 tackles (7.0 for a loss and 2.5 sacks), an interception, and 10 QB hurries.
It’s always difficult to keep score when looking at recruiting battles, because of the countless variables involved. However, Duke’s commitment list includes numerous names familiar to UNC fans – four-stars Mark Birmingham, Scott Bracey, and Dylan Singleton, plus Xander Gagnon, Mark Gilbert, Javon Jackson, Koby Quansah, and Ben Wyatt. Wyatt, a long snapper, actually chose a preferred walk-on opportunity at Duke over a Tar Heel scholarship.
A UNC fan could certainly counter the Wyatt choice with Chazz Surratt, an in-state quarterback who spent two months on Duke’s commitment list before changing shades of blue in late June. Other UNC pledges who reported Duke offers include Jordan Brown, Logan Byrd, Jay Jay McCargo, and Jonathan Smith.