UNC Football Class of 2016 Signee: S D.J. Ford

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

BIO: Started at safety on defense and split end on offense for Clay Central • Led the team in tackles and intercepted three passes • Earned all-area honors as a senior • PrepStar All-Southeast Region


RECRUITMENT: UNC’s pursuit of Ford began in earnest on a November Sunday afternoon when he received a phone call from assistant coach Charlton Warren. About a month later, Gene Chizik watched one of Ford’s basketball practices. A month after that, Ford was in Chapel Hill for an official visit. During his stay, UNC offered Ford and he immediately accepted. The late bloomer also picked up offers from Massachusetts, Louisianna-Layette, Toledo, and several FCS programs.

WHY CAROLINA: "As soon as the offer was made, I committed, because I had enjoyed myself so much being around the guys and coaches and the campus. I liked the way it felt. Once I got the feel for it, I really enjoyed myself and I loved being around the people. And I knew without a doubt it was for me. It’s an opportunity to play championship football with some of the best coaches in the country. Why not? ... Coach Warren, he’s a great guy. He’s really passionate about what he does. I could tell that football really means a lot to him and I really like that. We already have a solid relationship and we’re just getting started."

EVALUATION: A tall, long safety, Ford fills fast and is aggressive in run support. He may end up developing into a linebacker on the collegiate level. In making the tackle, he’ll sacrifice his body and will deliver some jarring hits. In pass coverage, he makes up for a relative lack of speed and fluidity with length and ball skills. His ball skills, particularly his ability to post up and high-point a ball, are attributed to his extensive experience at wide receiver.

HS COACH QUOTES: “North Carolina is getting a really good kid. Regardless of whether he starts a game or not, he’s going to be a good ambassador for the program and I’d be shocked if ever did anything to embarrass North Carolina. He has some athletic ability, now, but he’s also a good student. He’s done tremendously well in the classroom. The family he comes from, mom, dad, both sets of grandparents, he’s got a great support system behind him. He played free safety for us and he directed traffic back there for us. He’s smart, got everybody lined up for us and he’s got the ability to use his intelligence to get his teammates in the right positions. … We’re in a very rural part of Alabama. We’re about an hour from the nearest interstate and there’s not a four-lane road that comes through our county. You don’t just pass through Clay County, so that may contribute to why not many people knew about him. D.J. is very young, he’s only 17 and could actually have another year in high school in Alabama. I think he can grow physical and be really good for the North Carolina program.” — Kris Herron, Central Clay HS

INSIDE THE COMMITMENT: Gene Chizik visited Central Clay High School for a basketball practice. During his stay, he spoke to Ford, gave him the “eye test,” and evaluated his athleticism … Read the full subscriber-only report

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