Recruiting Storylines: UNC vs. FSU

Revisiting the North Carolina-Florida State recruiting stories that will play a role in Saturday's matchup.

Florida State and North Carolina regularly recruit within each other's home states, which has led to intersections on the recruiting trail. As such, a few players could easily be suiting up for the opponent during Saturday's ACC match-up.

Florida State

Josh Brown

Class of ‘16, Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek, 3-star, No. 57 DE

Brown burst onto the scene during his sophomore year when Florida State became the first school to offer -- before he had even started a game for his high school. UNC was among the schools to follow suit the following summer. However, he decided to pay back the Noles' faith with a verbal commitment the ensuing September. Despite the pledge, Brown made regular visits to Chapel Hill. But, he never wavered and enrolled at FSU last spring.

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As a true freshman, Brown has played in all four games this season, lining up at SAM linebacker. He has one tackle on the year.

Landon Dickerson

Class of ‘16, Hudson (N.C.) South Caldwell, 4-star, No. 4 OG

After attending a UNC junior day, Dickerson decided he’d take his talents out-of-state. Many thought that he’d end up at Virginia Tech, where his grandfather played. But, the Hokies didn’t even receive an official visit. Following official visits to Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, and Tennessee he chose to sign with FSU.

After watching the season opener from the sidelines, Dickerson, a true freshman, has started the last three games at right guard. That streak is expected to continue on Saturday.

Jacob Pugh 

Class of ‘14, Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby, 4-star, No. 6 OLB

Before becoming a four-star prospect, Pugh was a two-star recruit who left the Tar Heels’ camp as a rising junior with an offer and high on UNC. As interest grew in Pugh, so did his ranking. He eventually focused in on Alabama, Florida, and Florida State. Towards the end of his junior year -- six months after listing UNC as his leader -- he committed to the nearby Noles.

While flipping between Buck and Sam linebacker, Pugh is third on the team with 16 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss and 1.5 sacks. In the previous two seasons, he played all 26 games with four starts (all in 2015). In that two-year span, he accumulated 44 tackles, 5.0 TFLs, and 3.0 sacks.

North Carolina

Jordan Cunningham

Class of ‘13, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School, 3-star, No. 52 WR

Florida State wasn’t in play when Cunningham decided to transfer from Vanderbilt (he chose UNC over Cincinnati, Florida, Marshall, and Northwestern). However, during his first recruiting foray he officially visited FSU -- in addition to Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Vanderbilt -- before settling on the Commodores.

Before arriving at UNC, Cunningham was one of three true freshmen to see the field in 2013 for Vanderbilt. He caught 19 passes for 150 yards before leaving Vanderbilt three games into his sophomore year. He sat out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer requirements. This season, he’s running with the third string receiving group and has made one reception for 20 yards.

Dajaun Drennon

Class of ‘13, Erial (N.J.) Timber Creek Regional, 4-star, No. 29 DE

Florida State was among the two dozen schools to offer Drennon. However, in June prior to his senior year, the Noles failed to make his cut to six. Shortly thereafter, he pledged to UNC during a campus visit.

There’s a chance that Drennon, who sat out the first four games nursing a foot injury, could see his first action of 2016 on Saturday. During the two prior years, he started all 25 games making 75 tackles, including 10.5 for a loss and 3.5 sacks. He’s also recorded five QB hurries and a pair of pass breakups.

Ryan Switzer

Class of ‘13, Charleston (W.Va.) Washington, 3-star, No. 47 WR

When Switzer pledged to UNC, Penn State and West Virginia were also finalists. But, Florida State was among the plethora of schools to offer. While most programs respected the commitment, FSU’s coaches continued to recruit Switzer. Out-of-context quotes fueled concerns, but Switzer never ended up visiting any school outside of UNC.

A two-time All-American return man, Switzer tied the NCAA record with five punt return touchdowns in 2013. After adding two more in 2015, he’s one shy of the career punt return touchdown record. During his first three seasons, he pulled in 148 passes for 1,795 yards and 13 touchdowns. He leads UNC in receptions this season with 33 grabs for 429 yards and two scores.

Current Class

Outside of maybe Jerry Drake Jr. and Noah Curtis (who will be at the game), Florida State and UNC aren’t engaged in any active recruiting battles. However, FSU was a finalist for Tar Heel pledge Billy Ross, while UNC was a strong contender in the recruitments of Bailey Hockman and Khalan Laborn before both committed to the Noles.

Additionally, UNC offered Florida State verbal commitments Demarco ArtisCyrus FaganD.J. MatthewsStanford Samuels III, and Daniel Wright. Artis and Matthews actually visited Chapel Hill.


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