HUNTINGTON, W.Va. --- Before Huntington offensive lineman Billy Ross kicked off his senior season with a Midnight Madness practice, the 6-foot-5, 292-pound lineman, who is the top offensive line prospect in West Virginia, announced his commitment to North Carolina. He chose North Carolina over Tennessee, Florida State and Marshall. Ross sat down with Inside Carolina for a Q&A to discuss the decision.
Everyone has been waiting with anticipation for this announcement. Now that it is made, why was North Carolina the right place for you?
"It’s home there, to me. I love everything about it. It’s a college town. I see me possibly getting early playing time there – possibly redshirting my first year and then getting involved after my redshirt freshman year. I love the relationship with my coaches. I really felt like I was wanted there."
What is your relationship like with North Carolina’s coaching staff?
"I have a great relationship with Coach (Larry) Fedora and Coach Kap (offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic), and all the recruits."
Talk to me about Coach Kap. What does he bring to the table for you?
"He’s an intense guy. I like his philosophy of how he teaches the offensive line and the way he does things. It’s all different. I went to a camp up there and he coached me up a bit with one-on-ones, and I could definitely see myself getting way better with the way he teaches me. I made it back to their last spring practice/spring game and I saw Coach Kap get involved with those players. I liked the way he did that."
Is it interesting how social media plays into recruiting now? I know a few people noticed your tweet about your location when you were in Chapel Hill on a visit. Exactly how many people picked up on that?
"A lot. And the Tennessee coaches weren’t too happy because originally, I’ll be honest, I had called (Huntington High football) Coach (Billy) Seals and said, “I’m thinking about committing to there.” My last trip to Chapel Hill stopped Tennessee. I was like, I’ve got to come here."
Are you going to be an early enrollee or are you going to stay the full year at Huntington High?
"I’m looking at it. I need to talk to my counselor and maybe do an online class. I need history, English, math and science. I can take a block (two consecutive periods) on one, an online class with another and take the other two (regular periods) and I’d be set to go in December and January, which I’d love to do because I could get involved in spring ball and get on the field early."
Are you still going to take visits in the fall?
"It’s up in the air. That will be decided in the fall. I’m not sure yet."
How firm is the commitment to North Carolina? Is it a soft verbal or is this 100 percent all in?
"I’m 100 percent to them – hard commit."
I heard you went to a camp at North Carolina and that’s where the relationships really started?
"It’s called the “Freak Show” – the camp I went to – and I liked the way Coach Kap coached me up."
UNC has one in-state (West Virginia) guy in Ryan Switzer and he’s been successful. What’s your relationship like with him?
"He texted me one day and told me to join the family. There’s not many times you have a guy like Ryan Switzer text you."
UNC football has progressed. Is it fun to think you’ll be part of the progression? They were just a few minutes from a possible ACC Championship last year and expectations are high again.
"Yeah, and I think if they won that, they would’ve made the four-team playoff. They are predicted to win the Coastal this year. I think all the teams in the Coastal are going to keep building, and I feel like the ACC is going to be pretty solid."
The announcement came at 11:30 p.m., which isn’t typical for a formal announcement. How important was it for you to get the decision out of the way before your first practice of your senior year?
"It’s great that I can finish it, so I can focus on my season. A lot goes in to messaging coaches all the time and setting up visits and worrying about that stuff. Now, I can just focus. I still play for Huntington High – not North Carolina, yet."
In your mind, how big was the opportunity to play at North Carolina?
"It feels great because not a lot of kids get this opportunity. There’s a lot of students that would love to get accepted to the University of North Carolina. It’s a hard school to get in. The out-of-state acceptance rate is very low. All around, it’s 30 percent – only three of 10 kids get accepted. It’s awesome that I get the opportunity to go there for free and I get to play football for them – something I love. It’s just a great opportunity."