GREENSBORO, N.C. ---- North Carolina immediately shot up D.J. Crossen's leaderboard when the Tar Heels offered the Dudley High cornerback this summer.
"First of all, when you look at D.J. you can see his physical ability," Dudley head coach Steven Davis said. "He's a kid that's 6-2, about 180 [pounds] playing corner. He's a prototypical guy.
"He's very smart, very athletic, he can run, and has great ball skills. I had a kid who he kind of reminds me of in David Amerson."
During his freshman season, Crossen practiced with both the varsity and junior varsity. In preparation for the playoffs, he was fully promoted to varsity. Unfortunately, Dudley was disqualified from playoff play for using an ineligible player during the regular season.
Crossen was moved to varsity full time for his sophomore year. In preseason camp, he lost a battle with Myles White, an upperclassman who has since committed to East Carolina, for a starting cornerback spot. Consequently, Crossen played nickel back and outside linebacker. He finished the season with 13 tackles and three pass breakups.
This season, Crossen will team up with White to forge one of the top cornerback duos in the state.
After working out at a North Carolina camp in June, Crossen was escorted to Larry Fedora's office. There, Crossen was offered a scholarship.
"[Fedora] said that he had never heard of me before, but he felt that I really showed myself and that I showed tremendous athleticism, ball skills, and I competed really well," Crossen said. "He really stressed how competitive I was.
"[The offer] means a lot, because UNC is my favorite school and it's my family's favorite school. Being an in-state school, I like it a lot. And, I've been to so many UNC games and I know so many alumni. Some of my [former] teammates go there now."
East Carolina, Louisville, NC State, and Virginia Tech have also offered Crossen.
At UNC's camp, Crossen participated under the watchful eye of Charlton Warren, the Tar Heels' secondary coach.
"I like [Warren] a lot, actually," Crossen said. "He shoots you straightforward. He told me what I needed to work on. And I could tell he actually cares a lot about me, because at the camp I wasn't paying attention and he was like, 'I'm trying to help you.' That really showed me he cares."
If Warren has identified an exact position for Crossen, he hasn't shared that information. But, Warren did stress to Crossen how much he likes his versatility.
With his Dudley teammates, Crossen returned to UNC for its 7-on-7 camp. He was back on campus a few days later as a spectator of Fedora's Freak Show.
"The Freak Show is really intense actually," Crossen said. "Any football player will tell you that performing during the day is different than at night when the lights are shining on you. I was actually disappointed that I didn't participate, because that was their top recruits and I would have loved to compete against them."
Besides UNC, Crossen camped at NC State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest this summer. He also made followup visits to both NCSU and VT.
Dudley's 2017 class includes a few FBS prospects, namely Virginia Tech pledge Hendon Hooker, Virginia commit Bryson Speas, and White. Crossen has played with Speas since middle school, while he's known Hooker and White since he was eight years old. Nowadays, Crossen can't walk around school without hearing a recruiting pitch.
"Everyday I hear it," Crossen said. "When I walk out of here, Hendon will probably be like, 'You know you're going to be a Hokie.' He tries to sell me everyday and Myles does, too."
Perhaps the most influence voice might reside outside of Dudley. Tre Turner may play crosstown at Northwest Guilford, but Crossen considers the fellow 2018 recruit his best friend. Moreover, Crossen and Turner have had preliminary talks about playing together in college.
Crossen is also close with former teammate Simeon Gatling, a safety who will walk onto UNC's football team this fall. Crossen says that Gatling taught him a lot the past couple of years.
Crossen grew up a UNC fan... In addition to the aforementioned, Crossen knows -- in varying degrees -- Will Graves, P.J. Hairston, and Brendan Haywood. All three attended Dudley before playing basketball at UNC... Outside of football, Crossen plays basketball and runs track for Dudley. His fastest time in the 100- and 200-meter dashes are 10.74 and 21.8 seconds, respectively.