CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- A dozen schools have offered Quavaris Crouch, a 2019 athlete from Harding University High. However, a family connection has North Carolina firmly in the race for the 6-foo-2, 220-pounder.
"His upside is through the roof," Harding head coach Sam Greiner said. "He started for us Day One as a freshman. He came in power-cleaned 275 and he's never cleaned before.
"He always wants to get better. He challenges me on days off, 'Hey, Coach are you going to open up the weight room so we can get a lift in?' He's always looking for the edge to get better. He wants to be pushed and that's what's going to make him great.
"And God gave him an unbelievable body for football. You can't teach 6-2, 220 [pounds] and he's the fastest guy on the team. He's a machine."
As Greiner mentioned, Crouch was a varsity starter as soon as he stepped foot on campus as a freshman. Running back has been -- and will continue to be -- his primary position. As a sophomore, he rushed for 1,224 yards and 17 touchdowns with a 7.3-yards-per-carry average.
"This [past season] was the first year I coached offense and he's the center (piece) of it," Greiner said. "We did everything off of him. We're more of a Wing-T where he's downhill at you, but he can break 70-, 80-yard runs by making a spin move or making a cut. But, he's a workhorse; he could carry the ball 30 times because he's so big."
Defensively, Crouch has floated between linebacker and defensive end. To keep him fresh for offense, his defensive reps will diminish in coming seasons. The plan for next season is to only use him at defensive end in the dime package (i.e. on passing downs), where his sole responsibility is applying pressure on the opposing quarterback.
During the football season, North Carolina offered Crouch a scholarship.
"It was really awesome, because [Larry] Fedora and [Gunter] Brewer came to my school and told my coach that I had an offer," Crouch said. "They couldn't really talk to me, but I heard them tell my coach they were going to offer me a scholarship to the University of North Carolina."
"The only knock on Carolina was they weren't the first to offer -- and that means a lot to these kids with the Twitter world," Greiner said. "They've rebuilt that relationship up... North Carolina was No. 1 in his heart -- he used to wear a North Carolina hat all the time."
The first school to offer Crouch was South Carolina. He is now staring at a pile of a dozen offers, which consists of Georgia, Michigan, NC State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.
To help compensate for its "tardiness," UNC has an ace in the hole: Crouch's cousin, Marlon Dunlap, is a rising sophomore defensive tackle for the Tar Heels who saw time this past season as a true freshman.
"It could impact [my recruitment] a little bit, because my family is already used to going to that school," Crouch said. "It's not that far to travel to from where we live. And everybody wants to follow the family tree."
Furthermore, Dunlap has had nothing but positive UNC experiences to share with Crouch.
"He told me it's a good environment," Crouch said. "He told me North Carolina is a good place to be. He told me a lot of good things about the school, like the coaching staff and the loyalty."
Crouch has seen UNC's environment firsthand numerous times. He attended a camp last June, returned for a game, and made a couple random visits to campus.
"My comfort level is really high, because my cousin goes there," Crouch said. "I know a lot of the staff and it feels like home."
Besides UNC, Crouch has visited Clemson, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech. He plans to return to Chapel Hill at least once this spring -- likely for a late March junior day -- and is considering inaugural visits to Georgia, Michigan, and NC State.
Although Georgia and Michigan have also caught his eye, Crouch's fledgling recruitment is shaping up to be a UNC-South Carolina battle.
"Coach Brewer, he's my man," Crouch said. "He's a great guy, plus Coach Fedora. I just have to build on my relationship with them. But Brewer, that's my guy.
"At the South Carolina Gamecocks, my running back coach, Coach [Bobby] Bentley, that's my guy. I have built a good relationship with him."
Although schools are recruiting Crouch as running back, they are watching to see if he outgrows the position. Running back is his preference, but he's open to playing elsewhere.
In addition to football, Crouch runs track at Harding, where he participates in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, plus most relays. His personal best 100 time is 11.0 seconds, although he believes it will be much faster this spring.