Although North Carolina was in contention prior, Justin Rogers's weekend visit to UNC far exceeded his expectations.
"It was actually better than what I expected," Rogers said. "Coach Heck [Keith Heckendorf] said they were going to roll out the red carpet, because they don't know how many times I can get a chance to make the trip out there. They definitely rolled out the red carpet -- I definitely enjoyed myself."
Beginning early on Friday, Rogers, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound quarterback from Bossier City (La.) Parkway, spent two solid days in Chapel Hill, overlapping with Saturday's exclusive junior day. During his time on campus, he saw both the academic and athletic sides of UNC. In addition to the junior day, his stay included a presentation of the new indoor practice facility, observing Saturday's practice, sitting in on a quarterback meeting, and tours of the business school, academic support center, and athletic facilities. Also, he had dinner on Friday night at campus staple Top of the Hill.
"I was always considering them, but I never saw myself going there," Rogers said. "But now, I can see myself actually playing for them. The visit changed my thought process a lot."
Days before arriving in Chapel Hill, Rogers released a top seven schools list, which featured Harvard, Louisville, LSU, UNC, Oregon, TCU, and Tennessee. He says that the Tar Heels are battling it out with the Horned Frogs for tops on that list.
"Some other things could change as I get a chance to make a visit to the other schools, but right now it's TCU or North Carolina," Rogers said.
Rogers, who has already made double-digit visits to LSU and TCU, is in the process of finishing up visiting other members of his top seven. In April, he is scheduled to travel to Louisville and Tennessee. Meanwhile, his father is finalizing a trip to Oregon.
Although he has already visited UNC, Rogers hasn't ruled out returning to Chapel Hill within the next few months -- possibly for the Tar Heels' spring game on April 8.
"My dad went with me this weekend, but I know my mom and my brother want to go, because they're big-time [influencers] in my decision," Rogers said. "It might be me, my mom, and my brother, we might make another trip out there to North Carolina for the spring game."
Rogers doesn't have a set date for a decision, but his goal is to be verbally committed by the end of the spring -- the summer, at the latest.
"It's just once I feel, 'That's the school,' I'm going to do it then," Rogers said. "But, before I commit to a school, I'm going to start letting other recruits -- like Terrace [Marshall], he's my receiver -- let them know the game plan to see if I can bring them in with me, too. I want to have a legendary class."
Unsurprisingly, the highlight of Rogers's UNC visit was attending the nationally televised basketball win over archrival Duke.
"That was a bucket list thing I can check off," Rogers said. "The fans in the student section were amazing. I didn't expect it to be that crazy.
"After the game, all the student section and fans took off running; they started running to Franklin Street. I was with Logan [Byrd], one of the quarterbacks, for the night and we went and looked around Franklin Street. It was crazy -- it kind of looked like Bourbon Street, where I'm from, so I can relate to that type of environment."
For much of his two days in Chapel Hill, Rogers was with Fedora, Heckendorf, and Terry Joseph. Heckendorf, of course, coaches the Heels' quarterbacks. Joseph has had a relationship with Rogers that extends back to his time on Texas A&M's staff.
"The told me the [offensive] stats and the numbers that they have put up," Rogers said. "They've broken every [offensive] record at UNC since they've been there.
"Mainly, they said they don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon; they would be my coaches for all my years, if I choose to go there. Coach Fedora was emphasizing on that a lot of times a quarterback will commit to a school, and the quarterback coach will leave or the offensive coordinator will leave, and then the quarterback will have to learn a whole new offense going into his sophomore or junior season. That's really not good for [the quarterback], because you have to master those plays and concepts. But he was saying that the offense they run, that's his -- that's his offense. So even if Coach Heck gets a head coaching job somewhere else, they'll still run the same offense."
Fedora also talked about UNC's opportunity for playing time at quarterback.
"He didn't say, 'If you come here, you will play as a freshman,' because that's not what I want to hear because I know that's a lie," Rogers said. "But he was saying there's a chance to play early there."
A potential x-factor in Rogers's recruitment is Brandon Harris. The LSU graduate transfer quarterback is scheduled to officially visit UNC the weekend of March 25. As a Parkway alumnus, Harris is somewhat of a mentor to Rogers.
"Only positive things can come from [him choosing to transfer to UNC]," Rogers said. "If he goes up there and succeeds -- we come from the same high school, same offense -- that would play a big impact to me, because I could figure out, 'Maybe I can come and do the same thing.' He could let me know everything that goes on and what it's really like. He wouldn't lie to me and sell my head on something that wasn't true."
While quarterbacking an 11-2 team as a junior, Rogers threw for 3,021 yards and 31 touchdowns, and rushed for 709 yards with 11 scores.