UNC Football Class of 2016 Signee: DE Nolan DeFranco

Inside Carolina takes a closer look at the Tar Heel signee.

BIO: Member of the Orlando Sentinel's 2016 Central Florida Super60 • Helped guide West Orange to back-to-back district titles and the program’s first regional championship • Team steadily improved throughout his career, earning first playoff win since 1999 in 2014 and then finishing 12-2 as a senior • PrepStar All-Southeast Region • Earned all-district honors as a senior • Earned class 8A second-team all-state honors


RECRUITMENT: In the six months that followed his junior season, DeFranco visited Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, Miami, Michigan State, Northwestern, South Florida, and Vanderbilt. He returned to the road in June for a tour that included stops at UNC, Virginia, and Wake Forest. Coming out of the three-school trip, he named UNC, Vanderbilt, and Virginia as finalists with the goal of making a decision after returning to Vandy. A couple of days later he scrapped that plan in order to pledge to the Tar Heels.

WHY CAROLINA: "I knew it was right and I didn’t see any point in waiting. It felt right. It felt like home. So I just made the decision to commit. I talked it through with my parents and my head coach. I was planning on visiting Vandy, but I figured there wasn’t anything that they could do to make me like them any more than UNC. The biggest thing was the people. They’re trustworthy and they’re good at what they do – they’re good coaches and they provide good support. And that’s what I’m looking for: coaches that are trustworthy and are going to push me to be the best player I can be on the field and off.”

EVALUATION: DeFranco is a long, high-motor, run-stopping defensive lineman. He’ll likely begin his career at strong-side end, but could eventually grow into a D-tackle. Either way, he’ll need to significantly bulk up. He has a great first step inside and will slip between O-linemen. He plays to the whistle, which includes pursuing the play outside of the tackle box. He uses his giant wingspan to maintain separation from blockers and engulf ball carriers.

HS COACH QUOTES: “Nolan is one of the hardest workers that has ever played at West Orange High School. He is a blue collar/tireless worker and will outwork anyone. He is a young man that is driven in the classroom and takes academics seriously. He will make every teammate better because he has a fantastic attitude. He will work with players that need help even when the coaches are not around. He wants everyone to be successful and takes great pride in it. Nolan is 6-6 and has real long arms and will get off the ball fast. He will stress technique and will work himself daily. He was a captain and displays great leadership on and off the field. I have great respect for him and he has a great family. He is very dependable and I cannot say enough great things about him.” — Bob Head, West Orange HS  

INSIDE THE COMMITMENT: Late in the Spring Evaluation Period, UNC assistant coach Charlton Warren was at West Orange’s practice field, located in Winter Garden, Fla. Though it is home to a handful of FBS recruits, Warren was fixated on Nolan DeFranco… Read the full subscriber-only report

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