Back-to-back summer days in 2010 forged the face of North Carolina’s 2015 program -- faces that could have easily been on the opposing sideline at noon on Saturday.
On July 10, 2010 in a gym in Charlotte, Marquise Williams announced his commitment to UNC. A day later, in a similar ceremony at Harrisonburg (Va.) High School, fellow four-star Landon Turner also selected the Tar Heels. In both instances, Virginia Tech was among the finalists.
While the two aforementioned developments dramatically altered the courses of the two ACC Coastal Division rivals, they aren’t the only times UNC and Virginia Tech have collided on the recruiting trail.
Class of ’11, Harrisonburg (Va.), 4-star, No. 5 OG
Coming out of his junior season, Turner whittled down his lengthy list of scholarship offers to Georgia, Maryland, UNC, Ohio State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia. For his announcement, he cut that list in half – UNC, nearby Virginia Tech, and his father’s alma mater West Virginia. At said announcement, he proclaimed “My name is Landon Turner and I’m a Tar Heel.”
A four-year starter at right guard, Turner has appeared in 46 games for UNC. This season, he has graded out at 90 percent or higher in all ten games, and is an Outland Trophy and All-American Candidate.
Class of ’14, Arlington (Va.) Yorktown, 3-star, No. 39 S
After spending the preceding six months visiting schools, Stewart named Michigan State, UNC, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia his finalists in the June before his senior year. A month later, Stewart committed to the Tar Heels.
As a true freshman in 2014, Stewart played in 12 games finishing with 26 tackles, four pass breakups, and a pair of interceptions. This season, he has started 10 at cornerback where he has compiled 32 tackles, three interceptions, and a dozen pass breakups.
Class of ’11, Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek, 4-star, No. 16 QB
In July prior to his senior year, Williams verbally committed to UNC over fellow finalists Michigan and Virginia Tech. However, the real drama occurred a couple of months later when the NCAA's arrival at UNC led Williams to officially visit all three finalists, plus NC State. Shortly after graduating from Mallard Creek that December, he solidified his plans to enroll at UNC in January.
After an injury knocked out Bryn Renner in 2013, Williams seized the starting quarterback role. Since then, he has established more than 20 UNC records, including 87 career touchdowns. He has compiled six of the 13 highest single-game total offense performances in UNC history.
Class of ’12, Ringgold (Va.) Dan River, 3-star, No. 42 MLB
Striving to put his recruitment behind him prior to his senior year, Edmunds narrowed his focus to Maryland, UNC, Tennessee, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. After visiting most of those schools one last time, he became the first of three Edmunds boys to commit to the Hokies.
During a red-shirt season in 2012, Edmunds practiced at running back. He came out the next season and started 10 games (12 total) finishing with 675 yards and 10 touchdowns on 166 rushes. He has appeared in all 10 games this year rushing for 174 yards and two scores.
Class of ’12, Clifton (Va.) Centreville, 4-star, No. 25 DE
Just before his senior season, Ekanem named Boston College, Michigan State, UNC, NC State, Notre Dame, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Virginia Tech his favorite schools. Midway through that season, UNC, Notre Dame, Oregon, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech remained standing. Only Notre Dame and Virginia Tech ended up receiving official visits from Ekanem. On Signing Day, he signed with the Hokies.
Ekanem has started all 23 games at defensive end the past two seasons. The red-shirt junior has totaled 87 tackles, including 20.5 for a loss and 12.0 sacks, plus two dozen QB hurries within his Virginia Tech career.
Class of ’14, Woodbridge (Va.) Hylton, 4-star, No. 12 QB
After attending a game during the 2012 season, McMillian listed UNC among his favorite schools. However, the Tar Heels quickly fell out of favor. During the subsequent April, he pledged to Virginia Tech over fellow finalists California and Georgia Tech.
Following a red-shirt season last year – where he was converted to running back – McMillian has become Virginia Tech’s leading rusher. On the season, he has rushed for 800 yards and five touchdowns with a 5.5 average.
Divine Deablo is the current primary UNC-VT recruiting battle. The Winston-Salem wide receiver is technically verbally committed to Virginia Tech, but officially visited UNC last weekend. He returned home from Chapel Hill claiming the Tar Heels and Hokies were “50-50.”
A week prior, longtime Hokie pledge Myles Wilfolk took a last-minute official visit to UNC. Like Deablo, Wilfolk decided to look around shortly after Frank Beamer announced his retirement.
Long before Virginia Tech’s coaching staff faced potential disarray, Logan Byrd ended a seven-month commitment to the Hokies and then pledged to UNC.