GREENSBORO, N.C. --- We're about 18 months away from Signing Day 2018 and North Carolina has already picked up its second '18 verbal commitment. D.J. Crossen announced a pledge to the Tar Heels following Dudley High's season opening victory over Winston-Salem Carver.
"Really, it was because of my relationships I developed with Coach [Charlton] Warren, Coach [Gene] Chizik, and Coach Kap [Chris Kapilovic] mainly," Crossen said. "I really got comfortable with them.
"And with them being in-state, being close to home, and UNC was always a favorite school of mine growing up. Being a North Carolina kid, I was always around the football games and basketball games."
Crossen, a 6-foot-1, 182-pound defensive back, selected UNC over fellow finalists East Carolina, Louisville, NC State, and Virginia Tech. All five finalists have offered him a scholarship, most being extended this summer.
The UNC offer was extended on June 10, after Crossen worked out at a Tar Heel camp.
Since his camp appearance, Crossen has returned to UNC on three occasions: the "Beast of the Hill" 7-on-7 team camp with his Dudley teammates, Fedora's Freak Show as a spectator, and then for the Tar Heels' first practice. Each appearance further built UNC's lead until he finally set an announcement date and revealed his final five.
Committing wasn't the lone landmark of Crossen's football career that occurred on Friday. He also made his first varsity start lining up at cornerback.
A year ago, Crossen lost a preseason 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.
"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."
UNC's first '18 commitment was also a cornerback, albeit in a different mold. Donte Burton pledged to the Heels on July 31.