CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina’s 2017 signing day class consisted of 20 high school signees, bringing its current scholarship roster count to 86 with the inclusion of Auburn grad transfer Stanton Truitt.
NCAA rules allow for 85 total counters at the start of preseason camp and 25 initial counters (per class), which serves as a guideline for roster construction. Attrition typically reaches double figures each year, thereby indicating UNC may end up well below its maximum allotment by the time August rolls around.
The Tar Heels were in a similar position last season as Fedora ultimately granted scholarships to five walk-ons for 2016. The sixth-year UNC head coach explained how he determines class size on Wednesday.
“it’s always fluid,” Fedora said. “There’s just no exact way to do it. You can only have 85 and you know how many seniors you’ve got leaving. It’s hard to figure out attrition because you don’t know what’s going to happen. So if you oversign, you could be in trouble because you’ve got too many and then something’s got to happen. I don’t want to ever be in that position.
“And I do always like having a couple to be able to do something with. That’s paid off for us in the past from a late guy or a transfer. Now, with the graduate transfers, it’s kind of opened up a free agency, so being able to go and maybe find a guy that you may need in a hole that could help you, I definitely want to have that ability.”
“It’s a great day to be the head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels. It’s an exciting day for a lot of people, our recruits, their families, the coaches and players. All over the country, really. We bring an end to the ’17 class and at the same time we start the ’18, ’19 and in some cases the ’20 classes. This ’17 class I believe is pretty special, I really do. I believe it’s a group that’s loaded with great athletes. I think it’s a group that understands what a commitment is. I think there’s high character in this group. We’ve got high football IQs. They’ve got great family support and they have a tremendous will to succeed, and they also understand the value of an education at the University of North Carolina. I really do believe this group is going to be part of multiple championships while they’re here.”
Twenty signees in this classroom. How much room is there for maybe a couple more graduate transfers?
“We’ve got a little room. It’s always up in the air as far as how many, but we’ve got room right now and we’re actively pursuing a few, actually.”
What do you think your biggest need was in this class and how do you think you addressed that need?
“Going into it, we felt like our biggest need was going to be the offensive line and our defensive backs. That was where we really wanted to spend some time. You look at the guys we brought in, we needed to get five, and that’s not easy to do, to go out and find five quality guys. We wanted two guys with length, so one of them is 6-foot-6, the other one’s 6-7. One weighs 357, the other weighs 367. So two big guys for ends to have to get around in our passing game. And then some girth inside with the two guys, Billy Ross and Jonah Melton, 6-foot-3, 320, and 6-foot-5, 315, and then Brian Anderson, a center, out of Alabama that we needed. We really feel really strong about those five guys up front. That will be a key to our success in the future.
“On the back end, defensively, with the four kids that we signed, starting with Tre Shaw out of Georgia, who came in and is with us early right now and doing a great job. Caleb Rozar, who is another really long corner that can play multiple positions for us, but he’s over 6-foot-2. You’ve got Dazz Newsome that came in today that we’re excited about out of Hampton, Va. And then you’ve got C.J. Cotman out of Tampa, who is a kid that’s listed as an athlete. He could play either side of the ball, but we expect to play him at corner because he’s got such great skills.”
With Mitch Trubisky’s early departure, did you consider adding a quarterback to this class or are you just looking at graduate transfers?
“First of all, at the beginning of the year, we were not expecting it to happen the way that it did. Mitch had a tremendous year, his development was tremendous and we knew he was going to play in the NFL. We just didn’t know it was going to be so fast. By the time we realized that could be a reality, that he might make the decision to come out, it was really too late for us to go back on ’17 quarterbacks. So all it did was push us up on the ’18 guys. We’re 100 miles per hour on the ’18 quarterbacks right now.”
Do you expect Antwuan Branch and Michael Carter to contribute next season at running back?
“Yeah, they’re going to have to. They don’t have a choice, do they? They’ve got to come in and play for us next year. Along with Jordon Brown, that’s what we have. They know right now; they’re preparing in their minds. Michael’s here right now and Antwuan gets here in June. They’re preparing themselves and they know they’re going to have to be ready to play for us in that opening game against Cal.”
It sounds like an early signing period in December could be happening as early as later this year. Do you welcome that change?
“I would love for it… I still don’t know if it will pass. I really don’t know. I think if you polled all of the coaches out there that they would probably say, ‘yes, let’s do it.’ But I don’t think the coaches have much to do with it. This new vote that’s coming out in April, from my understanding, all of the different issues they’re voting on are all one bundle. It’s either yes or no on all of them. And so I have no idea because I think there are some things in there that I would not be for, so I don’t know if it’s worth it to vote and have a couple of things you want and have to accept the other things that they’re pushing.”