North Carolina's defensive line coach transition has had a minimal effect on the 2017 class, since UNC's three D-line commitments enrolled without a hitch earlier this month. But, for 2018 prospects like four-star Rick Sandidge, how they connect with the Heels' new defensive line coach will be paramount.
During a conversation with area recruiter Chris Kapilovic last week, Sandidge, a 6-foot-5, 273-pounder from Concord (N.C.), received the lowdown on the situation.
"Coach Kap told me that [Tray Scott] and his wife were having a kid," Sandidge said. "So, they thought it was best to go home."
Sandidge says that he and Scott were "pretty close." Regardless, Scott's departure won't be insurmountable for UNC.
"It really doesn't hurt much, because he hasn't actually started coaching me," Sandidge said. "If I were there, then I would have felt some time of way because I wouldn't be with the same coach for three or four years."
Sandidge has yet to speak with Scott's replacement, Deke Adams, since he was added to UNC's staff. However, Adams did recruit Sandidge previously as an East Carolina assistant.
"I think he's a good coach," Sandidge said. "I look forward to talking to him [as a UNC coach]."
This past football season, Sandidge visited three schools for games: UNC, South Carolina, Virginia Tech.
Later this spring, Sandidge plans to issue his final eight schools. The three aforementioned programs are virtual locks to make the cut. In fact, Sandidge says UNC and South Carolina have emerged as his top two.
"Those are the schools that I really like," Sandidge said. "UNC offered me first and has treated me like family. And then when I went to South Carolina, I liked it a lot.
"It doesn't have anything to do with distance. I wouldn't go all the way across the country, but I'd go pretty far away. I just feel most comfortable with those two schools."
After his final eight list is unveiled, Sandidge plans to intermittently trim his finalists list down (final five, final three, etc.) until he's left with one school. Tentatively, he's looking to make a decision during the football season.
"I want to feel at home," Sandidge said. "I want to get a chance to actually get on the field. And I want to make sure my education is right."
In the meantime, Sandidge will continue with campus visits. This weekend, he'll travel to South Carolina for a junior day. He also plans to attend a UNC junior day later this spring.