HENDERSON, N.C. --- Although two additional programs have officially entered the race, North Carolina has maintained -- if not continued to build upon -- its sizable lead with Zamari Ellis, a 2018 tight end.
"They're first right now," Ellis said, "because they're the most interested in me, I think. They're definitely giving me the most attention. So, yea, they're first."
Since the interest is mutual, it has played to the Tar Heels' benefit. UNC is the only school Ellis, 6-foot-4, 225-pounder from Southern Vance, has visited since the end of the 2015 season. As a result, he has visited UNC way more than any other program.
"I definitely am familiar with the campus and the coaches," Ellis said. "And I feel comfortable there."
Last season, UNC extended Ellis his first scholarship offer. East Carolina and Tennessee followed suit this past Spring Evaluation Period.
However, UNC's lead is so great that Ellis has begun to contemplate when to make a commitment. He has his eye on an end-of-year announcement, which would allow him to make his inaugural visit to Tennessee, take his first trip to East Carolina since receiving an offer from the school, and also travel to any other schools that may offer in the near future.
Ellis, who attended a pair of UNC wins (Duke and Miami) last season, also plans to return to UNC this fall. He has yet to decide which games he'll attend, though.
Most recently, Ellis camped at UNC in July. The experience allowed him to be coached by Chad Scott, UNC's tight ends coach.
"I like him," Ellis said. "He's really upbeat and he tells you what to do and what not to do. I like him as a coach."
Afterwards, Ellis met with both Scott and Larry Porter, his primary recruiter.
"They said that they're going to split me out a lot at like a slot receiver, too," Ellis said. "They've compared me to Eric Ebron. It's an honor to be compared to a person of that caliber."
Ellis's camp visit also included a sit down with Larry Fedora.
"He just said to keep working hard and stuff and I'll get better," Ellis said.