FOREST CITY, N.C. --- As Demetrius Mauney continues to make a name for himself, North Carolina continues to gain ground with the 2019 athlete from East Rutherford High. The 5-foot-11, 181-pounder now lists UNC among his top three schools.
"Demetrius is a special player," East Rutherford head coach Clint Bland said. "When he's healthy, he can really go. He has a good head on his shoulders. We play him at running back and outside linebacker, but I see him at running back on the next level. If not running back, I could see him at safety."
As a freshman a year ago, Mauney started all 12 games at running back. He ended the year with nearly 500 yards and five touchdowns.
Mauney has been plagued by injuries (hamstring, quad, etc.) during his sophomore season. No matter, he's leading East Rutherford in rushing (542 yards), has already surpassed his prior year's touchdown total (nine), and hasn't missed a game. And, he's also started every game at linebacker tallying 25 tackles, including two for a loss and a sack.
Mauney is waiting for his first scholarship offer. But, North Carolina is one school that has been recruiting him as if he's been offered.
"I talk to Coach [Chad] Scott almost every week," Mauney said. "We usually either talk Thursday night or Saturday night after Carolina plays. We'll talk about my game and we'll talk about Carolina's game.
"It's a pretty strong relationship. We talk about a lot of different things. I live with my great grandparents and we talk about how helping them is important. We talk about how staying in school is important. He talks to me more like a man than being a player on the field."
Based off his own conversations with Scott, Bland believes it's only a matter of time before Mauney possesses a UNC offer.
"I think they're eventually going to offer him," Bland said. "[Scott] did tell me that they're going to come watch him play at some point this season. And I think once they actually see him perform in a uniform, they're going to offer."
In addition to UNC, Mauney is hearing from Clemson, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas A&M.
During the summer, Mauney made three visits to UNC beginning with a June camp. The most impactful, though, was Fedora's Freak Show.
"The intensity of the Freak Show is way different," Mauney said. "You're playing against the top players in North Carolina."
Also this summer, Mauney camped at Clemson, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Mauney was back in Chapel Hill a couple of weeks ago for the Tar Heels' last-minute victory over Pitt.
"I was thinking about leaving [early], but I started seeing [Ryan] Switzer and [Mitch Trubisky] making good connections and they kept getting first downs," Mauney said. "I thought, 'Well, this might be a good game. They might make something happen.' And they did it.
"The game day atmosphere was awesome. The coaches got the players hyped. All the recruits there, we all talked about the game a lot."
Mauney plans to return to UNC this weekend for the Virginia Tech game.
Months ago, UNC was an afterthought for Mauney, according to Bland. But the aforementioned visits coupled with his relationship with Scott have shoved the Tar Heels' into Mauney's top three schools list, along with Clemson and Georgia.
Mauney is also a member of East Rutherford's track team and plans to play basketball this year... Manuey is close with Justin Foster, a four-star recruit from the 2017 class.