Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina

Four-star LB Dax Hollifield Loves UNC's Staff Renovations

The four-star linebacker met with Mike Ekeler on Saturday.

Accompanied by a group of friends, four-star linebacker Dax Hollifield was back in Chapel Hill on Saturday for North Carolina's basketball blow out of Virginia.

"I like going to basketball games," Hollifield said. "That's probably my favorite thing to do is go to a UNC basketball game. It's great -- I love it.

"Every time I've been invited, I've wanted to go, but I haven't had a chance. I always had something on Saturdays. This was the first game I actually got to go to."

Hollifield, a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder from Shelby (N.C.), faces a similar conflict in a couple of weeks when UNC hosts Duke. The regional round of the NCHSAA basketball playoff bracket is also scheduled for March 4.

"Our basketball team might be good enough to go to the regional finals," Hollifield said. "If we don't make it that far, I plan on going. 

"There's also a chance that I could play [in the regional finals] and still go. Since we're in the smaller classification, they usually try to get our games out of the way first. So, we might play around 2 p.m., maybe 3 p.m. And we're going to be in Greensboro, so we might hop on over to UNC that night."

Prior to this past Saturday's basketball game, Hollifield met with Mike Ekeler, UNC's new defensive assistant coach. 

"I knew him before, because I met him when I went down to Georgia," Hollifield said. "But, I hadn't talked to him since he left for North Texas. I didn't really know he was at North Carolina.

"He's a great coach -- I like him a lot. He's awesome. He's a very funny guy."

Ekeler used the meeting with Hollifield to reintroduce himself.

"He talked about how he grew up and how he coaches," Hollifield said. "He's a lot like me -- he likes to do stuff with his hands... He's my type of guy: he does everything by himself -- he doesn't call anybody else to help him out. That's what I like."

Additionally, Hollifield was told how UNC will construct its renovated defensive coaching staff. Ekeler will coach the linebackers, while John Papuchis will be the defensive coordinator.

"I love it, because Coach JP is now the DC and he's the former linebacker coach, so he's going to put us in the position to make the play every time," Hollifeld said. "I also like that Coach Ekeler has experience of winning. Everywhere he's been, they've been a top defense and all of his linebackers have been great. He produces."

Hollifield is unsure what his upcoming recruiting travel schedule will look like. Many schools have invited him to spring practices, but his basketball schedule could once again interfere.

"I don't know when I'm going to get a chance, because I don't know when basketball is going to end," Hollifield said. 

In the meantime, Hollifield continues to pile up impressive scholarship offers. Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame, Penn State, and Stanford are among his recent additions.

"These past three weeks, everything got a little crazy," Hollifield said. "But, I sat down and thought about it and nothing really is going to change; I still like UNC, Virginia Tech, and South Carolina. But, I like Stanford a lot, too; I could see myself playing there, also. That's the only thing that's really going to change is Stanford and maybe a little bit with Notre Dame; Coach [Mike] Elko and Coach [Clark] Lea from Wake Forest are there. I've always liked Notre Dame and now that I know some people that are going to be coaching there, I like them a lot more, too."

By this point, Hollifield was hoping his recruitment would simplify. The opposite is the case.

"It's getting pretty hard," Hollifield said. 


Inside Carolina Top Stories