North Carolina signee Nolan DeFranco has added a good amount of weight this offseason. The UNC coaches believe that’s just the tip of the iceberg, considering his frame.
DeFranco played his senior season for Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. The defensive lineman is now tipping the scales between 235 and 240 pounds.
“Coach [Tray] Scott said a good target weight would be 235 to 245 by the time I report,” DeFranco said. “Coach [Larry] Fedora told me that he could see me – after a while – playing around 265-270.”
DeFranco credits his time spent at Tom Shaw Performance, a training facility located at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
“I usually do the workout there, because it’s a lot harder than UNC’s workout,” DeFranco said. “The days that I don’t go, I’ll follow UNC’s workout.
“I’ve gained a lot of weight and I’ve definitely gotten stronger. And I’ve been working on my speed, too.”
Despite the added weight – and the potential for more – the UNC coaches haven’t brought up playing DeFranco inside. To the contrary, they could see him play “speed” end. He was originally recruited for “power” end, his likely future position.
“Just recently, they’ve been telling me that I could play either [defensive end position],” DeFranco said. “Probably when I get there, they’re going to put me at ‘speed’ defensive end to start with.”
For West Orange, DeFranco played four-technique (over offensive tackle) on its three-man defensive front, which is essentially a hybrid tackle/end position.
It will be up to DeFranco whether he sees the field this fall.
“Coach Scott basically said they’re going to see how I do,” DeFranco said. “And he said that he likes to play with eight, maybe ten D-linemen and the rest of the guys are going to red-shirt. He said if I do play, I’m going to play a lot – he wouldn’t just burn my red-shirt and have me play a minimal amount of snaps.”
To gain a taste of what he’s in for, DeFranco attended one of UNC’s final spring practices.
“It was really exciting,” DeFranco said. “It looked like they were getting a lot of work done.
“I liked what they did at the end of practice: Coach [Gene] Chizik makes the [players] tell him how many ‘loafs’ they had and then they do up-downs in a circle. It’s a good way to cut down on mistakes. I just thought it was really creative.”
After wearing No. 80 as a freshman, DeFranco sported No. 90 the rest of his high school career. He’s unsure what digits he’ll don for UNC.
“I want a number that looks good, like probably above a 60,” DeFranco said. “Anything besides the 50s. I think that all the 90s numbers look good. I don’t have any specific number that I like.”
DeFranco, who just finished with AP exams, projects to clear UNC admissions and the NCAA Eligibility Center. He just needs to submit his final transcripts.
On either June 13 or 14, DeFranco will report to UNC, just in time for the second summer semester.
“I’m excited,” DeFranco said. “I’m wrapping up high school and getting ready to start the next chapter in my life. So, yea, I’m excited.”
When he arrives, DeFranco may have the most diverse suite. Luke Elder, Chazz Surratt, and Noah Turner are his tentative suitemates. They represent four different states – spanning from Chicago to Orlando – and four different positions.
“On the official [visit], we all just started talking about rooming,” DeFranco said. “I hung out with Luke all those times. He asked me to room with him, and I was like, ‘Yea, sure thing.’”