After his most recent visit to the school, North Carolina is firmly in the race for Bailey Hockman, a four-star quarterback from Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern.
“They’re in the top three,” Hockman said. “I haven’t really narrowed it down much, but they’re definitely in the top three.”
Florida State and Tennessee round out the remainder of Hockman’s top group. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder has collected about two dozen offers.
Last fall, Hockman first visited UNC when the Tar Heels routed Miami. His return was for its exclusive junior day on Feb. 17.
“I was able to get around more and talk to the academics people and everybody else other than just a couple of coaches,” Hockman said of the junior day. “I got to see a lot more things, other than just the atmosphere on game day.”
Before returning to UNC, Hockman visited Auburn. He then traveled to Florida State last Saturday. This Saturday, he’s scheduled to visit Tennessee.
After returning from Knoxville, Hockman believes he’ll be finished with recruiting visits for a while. He is considering a third trip to UNC for a spring practice.
Quarterback prospects tend to make verbal commitments sooner than other recruits. Aware of that, Hockman would like to make a decision as soon as possible. But, he lacks an exact time frame. Committing shortly after spring ball would be ideal, but he says he’ll be happy as long as he’s committed before the football season.
“The sooner, the better,” Hockman said. “It helps [the school] out and me just knowing I have my mind made up. If a school knows I’m not going there, they know that they can go recruit other guys. I would like for it to be early, but I’m also trying to take my time and make sure I have the right place.”
In addition to seeing more of the school, Hockman’s UNC junior day itinerary included a couple of unique activities.
“They had all of us introduce ourselves and then [the coaches] were asking us questions,” Hockman said. “I was the first one to go. It was pretty fun.”
Of course, the main event of the junior day was attending the UNC-Duke basketball game.
“It was great,” Hockman said. “The atmosphere was really crazy. We had a really good time.”
Hockman was with Keith Heckendorf, UNC’s quarterbacks coach, for most of the visit. That included a one-on-one meeting before most visitors arrived on campus.
“We had a good meeting,” Hockman said. “We sat down for an hour or two and talked some ball, and that was good.
“This year, Mitch [Trubisky] will be the guy. And then I could come in and red-shirt and then try to start my red-shirt freshman year. So it would be perfect timing.”
Hockman was accompanied on the junior day by teammate/UNC pledge Tyler Smith.
“We’ve been good buddies forever,” Hockman said. “It doesn’t really change the whole process, but it helps to know that my best friend will be there. It makes it a little easier to be able to talk to people [on the visit] – you’re not all by yourself and the focus is all on you. You have somebody who can help you explain something.”
Not only have Hockman and Smith known each other since they were little kids, but they’ve been teammates since the fourth grade. Hockman says that “of course” he and Smith have discussed continuing to be teammates in college. But, that doesn’t mean Hockman’s a lock for UNC.
“We’ve always been, ‘Hey, whatever place is best for you and if it’s the same place great,’” Hockman said. “Whatever is best for the other guy is what we want for each other.”