GREENSBORO, N.C. --- Brelin Faison-Walden, the fastest rising in-state prospect, was among an exclusive group to attend North Carolina’s junior day on Wednesday. Not only that, the 6-foot-2, 197-pound safety from Grimsley High reported to campus early at the coaching staff’s request.
Darryl Brown, who was named Grimsley’s head coach less than a month ago, has yet to coach Faison-Walden. But, Brown has coached against Faison-Walden the past couple of years as head coach of Southern Guilford.
“We definitely had to game plan for him,” Brown said. “He’s physical, fast, ]and] has great instincts on the defensive side of the ball. You watch his highlight film and he can play sideline to sideline. He’s an outstanding athlete.
“What impressed me the most from watching his film was: I didn’t realize how physical he is. He’s an extremely physical player.”
Faison-Walden has been a varsity starter since the first game of his freshman year. Over the course of the ensuing three seasons, he could be found at outside linebacker, middle linebacker, safety, defensive end, running back, and receiver.
As a sophomore, Faison-Walden totaled 137 tackles, five sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. He once again averaged over a dozen tackles a game last season, while picking off two passes, forcing four fumbles, and sacking the QB four times.
“[The previous Grimsley staff] lined him up at a lot of different places, which we won’t do,” Brown said. “He’ll primarily play safety for us. But, we’ll do some different things for him – we’ll roll him down in the box – to make sure he’s involved.”
Faison-Walden took his third visit to North Carolina on Wednesday when he attended the Tar Heels’ elite junior day, an event centered around the UNC-Duke basketball game.
“This one, all of the offered recruits were there,” Faison-Walden said. “It was a lot more comedic. It was very energetic. I had fun with everything.”
While most attendees arrived at 5 p.m. or later, Faison-Walden was asked by Chris Kapilovic, who recruits Guilford County for UNC, to report a couple of hours earlier. The early arrival allowed Faison-Walden and his mother to meet individually with Charlton Warren, UNC’s defensive backs coach.
“He talked about where I would fit into the defense,” Faison-Walden said. “He talked about the scheme, where I would fit into the secondary, and what I would do.”
Warren sees Faison-Walden playing either safety or nickel back within UNC's 4-3 scheme.
“He wants me rolling down inside the box and blitzing from the outside,” Faison-Walden said. “And then I would cover the slot and jump back into coverage.”
Faison-Walden also spent ample time with Kapilovic.
“He just said they really want me,” Faison-Walden said. "He made sure my mom and I knew that."
Faison-Walden first visited UNC as a freshman. He returned in December for a bowl practice.
“I like North Carolina,” Faison-Walden said. “It’s close to home. It has really energetic people that you know will love you and care a lot for you. There’s a good staff there. There are good players there that try to get you to come there. It’s like a family environment.”
UNC was a part of an avalanche of scholarship offers for Faison-Walden.
“Coach Kap – I talked to him at the [NCFCA Winter Football] Clinic a couple of weeks ago – and he said they had him as the No. 1 defensive guy in the state on their board,” Brown said.
Faison-Walden entered the New Year with a single offer, East Carolina. But after an impressive U.S. Army National Combine – including a 4.48-second 40-yard dash – his offer count has surpassed a dozen. He has now received offers from Alabama, Georgia, Penn State, South Carolina, Syracuse, and all of the in-state schools.
“He has a lot going on and I’d imagine it’s going to continue to pick up,” Brown said.
With that in mind, Faison-Walden has elected to wait to anoint favorite schools.
“No schools are sticking out over the other,” Faison-Walden said. “Everything is pretty much the same. I’m just pretty much having fun with it.”
Faison-Walden, who plans to be a mid-term enrollee, is looking to narrow his focus to a more manageable group of schools in a couple of months.
Besides UNC, Faison-Walden has visited Alabama, East Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia Tech.
Faison-Walden was planning to return to UNC this Saturday. But, he now says it’s highly unlikely that trip occurs because the recent travels have begun to wear on him and his parents. He does plan to return for a spring practice, though.
Also, Faison-Walden is in the process of scheduling a trip to Florida State.
Faison-Walden attends Middle College at North Carolina A&T, an all-male college prep school (and is driven to Grimsley after school to participate in football activities). Honors classes make up his entire course load and he receives college credits for his work… Faison-Walden plans to major in criminal justice in college.