ASHEVILLE, N.C. --- A familiar name was recently offered by North Carolina -- Andrew Leota, a 2018 defensive end from Asheville High. Leota, the younger brother of former UNC recruit Pika, will likely visit this weekend.
"He's a guy who's motor never stops," Asheville head coach David Burdette said. "He's just relentless in what he does. Whether it's offense or defense, he's going to play 100 percent, every play, the whole game. And that's from the day he walked in here -- it's something internal in him. When the ball is snapped, he just never stops. He's going to fight tooth and nail to get the job done.
"He's a 'Yes, sir. No, sir.' type kid. He's going to do what you ask him to do."
Prior to the 2014 season, Leota was promoted from junior varsity to varsity. He went on to become the first freshman to start every game for Asheville High in quite some time.
After focusing solely on defensive end during his freshman season, Leota also became a starting offensive tackle and handled long snapping duties as a sophomore. He ended that campaign with 49 tackles, including three for a loss and six sacks. He also was credited with 19 QB pressures.
Five games into his junior season, Leota has made 28 tackles, two TFLs, three sacks, and nine QB pressures.
Beginning on Sept. 1, college coaches were permitted to contact members of the 2018 class through mail, email, text messages, etc. Shortly thereafter, Leota received a text message from Chad Scott, who recruits the mountains of NC for North Carolina.
"It was on a Monday night, because I went to Wild Wing Cafe that night," Leota recalled. "The message told me to call him, so I did. He said, 'We'd like to offer you.'
"I was very thankful, because I love UNC.
"He said the staff went over my [early junior season film] and they were impressed."
Virginia Tech first offered Leota this past summer, following his performance at the Hokies' camp. Duke followed suit not long after.
"I predict, he'll have 10-15 [offers]," Burdette said. "Those are the only three [schools to have offered] so far, because if you look at him -- he's 6-4, 225 [pounds] -- and you think, 'God, where am I going to play him at? He doesn't run a 4.4 forty.' But then they get him on campus... He runs a 4.6, but he plays like he runs a 4.4, because he's relentless to the ball."
According to Burdette, Leota's three offering schools all witnessed his functional speed in a camp setting, which prompted scholarships.
"The bottom line, if he shows up at your camp, you're going to offer him," Burdette said. "And that's because of what type of kid he is and what type of motor he has. Those are things you see on film, but when you see it in person you're like, 'Oh, wow that guy doesn't stop.'"
Leota has visited UNC a few times, primarily as a guest of his brother's, Pika, during his recruitment. The younger Leota was last in Chapel Hill for the 2015 Fedora's Freak Show. With an offer of his own, he plans to return sometime this season, likely for this Saturday's bout with Virginia Tech. It will be his first game in Chapel Hill.
"My mother, she wants to learn more about the academic support, because school comes first," Leota said. "And I just want to feel the atmosphere. I want to see if I can see myself going there."
UNC was among Pika's finalists, but he ended up choosing South Carolina. Now enrolled, Pika has been recruiting for the Gamecocks.
"He wants me to come to South Carolina," Leota said with a laugh.
By default, Leota says he's favoring his three offering schools.
"It's been hard," Leota said. "I have't really had time to let [my recruitment] sink in."
When he was seven years old, Leota moved from Samoa... Although he doesn't consider himself a fan of any college, he grew up in a pro-UNC household... Leota is also a member of Asheville's basketball and golf teams.