BARNWELL, S.C. --- Curious why the mammoth -- but yet relatively athletic -- Marcus McKethan isn't more heavily recruited? Travel to Barnwell.
"A lot of people don't know about him," Barnwell High head coach Dwayne Garrick said. "We're a little [class] 2A school [in] a little country area. So, a lot of people haven't come by and actually seen him."
Barnwell is a town of under 5,000 people. The nearest interstate is over 60 miles away, while the closest regional airport is nearly an hour's drive with mostly farm lands along the way.
"Everybody that's laid their eyes on him has offered him -- everybody that's come through here," Garrick said. "... Outside of North Carolina and outside of South Carolina, there just hasn't been anybody down. Anybody that came through here from a D1 program has offered him."
East Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, and Troy each made the trek to Barnwell High School during an evaluation period. All five have offered McKethan after seeing the 6-foot-6, 328-pound offensive tackle, according to Garrick.
Further hindering McKethan's exposure is his absence at any showcase camps, such as a Nike Opening Regional.
"I just didn't even think about [going to camps], really," McKethan said.
McKethan is also not big on social media. He has a Twitter account, but his next tweet will be his first.
Although the Palmetto State is within its typical recruiting footprint, for the same reasons listed above the Tar Heels too could have easily missed the massive O-lineman. So how did UNC, the school that eventually scored his commitment, fortuitously discover McKethan?
"I think from word of mouth from other schools in the area when they were recruiting some other kids," Garrick said. "And then they actually came through."
Tray Scott, who recruits South Carolina Low Country for UNC, visited Barnwell over the Spring Evaluation Period. Subsequently, offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic made several phone calls to Garrick to learn more about McKethan.
"They're tickled to death to get him," Garrick said. "They like him because he's athletic. They love his size. They love his character. And he's a great academic guy. He's never been in trouble. So, he's a guy they know is going to be in their program for four/five years and probably a guy that could probably contribute right away."
Garrick added that McKethan maintains a 4.0 grade-point average and already achieved a qualifying score in the ACT.
"He's locked in, ready to go," Garrick said. "He's not a question mark guy."
In May, Kapilovic offered McKethan a scholarship. But, the offer was contingent upon him camping. Although tardy, McKethan participated in UNC's June 17 camp and validated his offer with his performance.
Before leaving UNC that day, McKethan essentially decided he wanted to be a Tar Heel.
"Really, it was just everything -- the education and the coaches," McKethan said.
However, McKethan elected not to rush into a commitment. Instead, he went home to talk it over with his family. Nevertheless, he was so sold on UNC that he canceled a forthcoming trip to NC State.
"I was going to camp [at NC State] on [June] 18, but I committed to North Carolina before I went," McKethan said. "So, I didn't go."
While he has no plans to visit any other schools, McKethan is looking to attend two to three UNC games this season.
Playing right tackle for Barnwell, McKethan is the centerpiece for an offense that runs the ball on 70-percent of its plays.
"I don't know if we've ever self-charted ourselves, but we're probably 70-30 right-to-left," Garrick said.
On the collegiate level where offenses tend to be more balanced, Garrick could envision McKethan playing either left or right tackle.
"A big kid like that, they may get him on that left side and protect that quarterback in pass pro a little bit more," Garrick said.
"He's very smart. He's aggressive.
"The things we've talked about are finishing plays. If you go back and look at his junior film, he's a great player for about seven yards. I want him to be a great player for about 12 to 15 yards this year. I want him finishing people.
"He's plenty tough,. He's strong (I think last time we max'd he was a 350-[pound] bench guy). He has long arms. He's a good player -- he just needs to get a tad nastier."