As North Carolina sorts out its vacancy at wide receiver, Isaiah Epps, one of the top recruits on its radar, traveled to Chapel Hill this past weekend.
"No matter who offers, I'm really liking UNC based off of what I saw this weekend and the coaches and the campus," Epps said. "It was homecoming and I really liked the homecoming traditions."
As a recruit, Epps, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder, is somewhat of a late bloomer. After playing football from second to eighth grade, he took a break from the gridiron until his junior season. For nationally ranked and undefeated Jenks (Okla.) High, he's pulled in 48 passes this season for a little over 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns.
"Last year was my first year back, so I didn't get much playing time," Epps said. "I think not having a lot of junior year film has a lot to do with [my lack of recruiting interest]."
Colleges have caught on quickly, though. First, FCS schools Eastern Illinois, Missouri State, Samford, and South Dakota State offered. Last week, Illinois gave Epps his first FBS offer. Additionally, LSU and UNC have expressed strong interest.
For much of this recruiting cycle, UNC's commitment list has carried three wide receivers. However, a void was created when the Tar Heels and Ryan Jones parted ways. That led Gunter Brewer to make an evaluation visit to Jenks during the Tar Heels' bye week.
"A couple of weeks ago, I heard from Coach [Dub] Maddox that Coach [Gunter] Brewer was going to come to visit me at practice," Epps said. "After he came to my practice, we talked for a while. Over the phone and text, we talked about me coming up for a game."
Brewer and Epps decided the sooner he could visit UNC the better. Thus, Epps booked a flight for this past weekend. He arrived on campus about an hour before the UNC-Georgia Tech game kicked off.
"I actually loved it -- everything from the campus to the facilities," Epps said. "I got to meet a number of the staff. I really enjoyed everything that I experienced down there."
As soon as he reached campus, Epps was escorted into Brewer's office. Among other things, Brewer broke down UNC's wide receiver situation.
"They're looking at a couple of guys potentially for another spot," Epps said. "Just based on how things go the next couple of weeks, I should be hearing back whether or not they can offer or not."
After the game, Epps met at length with Larry Fedora.
"We just talked about basically just football and school and the academics at North Carolina," Epps said. "He told me the academics would be a lot of work.
"Also, [he talked about] what he saw on film. He said he liked my tape."
In between the two aforementioned meetings, Epps watched UNC accumulate a season-high 636 yards en route to a 48-20 victory.
"They run a nice spread offense," Epps said. "I felt like they were really efficient running and throwing the ball. They did a lot of both and they threw it deep to [Bug] Howard and a lot of those other guys. They have a really good running back, but they still aired it out a lot, which I liked, of course."
Before heading to the airport Epps met with Lou Hernandez, UNC's strength and conditioning coach, on Sunday morning.
Depending on whether UNC offers, Epps will return for an official visit. In the meantime, he's working on traveling to Illinios for its game against Iowa on Nov. 19.