Don Callahan/Inside Carolina

CB D.J. Crossen Spending Spring Evaluating Recruitment

The one-time UNC pledge returned to Chapel Hill for Saturday's scrimmage.

Former North Carolina verbal commitment D.J. Crossen vehemently denies having a leader.

"I wouldn't say there is a team to beat right now, because as a whole I haven't finished up my recruitment," Crossen said. "There are also other schools out there that I haven't really gotten to visit. Because I started off with Carolina and Virginia Tech so much, there's still some evaluating to do with other schools. So, I wouldn't say there's a front runner right now."

With that in mind, Crossen, a 6-foot-1, 182-pound defensive back from Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley,  will continue to spend the spring evaluating schools. He hopes to release a final schools list (consisting of either five or ten programs) just before the season. During the season, he plans to make a verbal commitment.

Beginning last August, Crossen spent approximately five months on UNC's commitment list. He withdrew the pledge shortly after Charlton Warren, then the Tar Heels' DB coach, left the staff. 

Crossen was back in Chapel Hill on Saturday for the Tar Heels' scrimmage. Having experienced just about everything else at UNC, Crossen felt it was important to observe a practice.

"I really liked the intensity in which they played," Crossen said. "They scrimmaged like it was an actual game. 

"And [I liked] the way all the coaches coach. If [a player] makes a mistake, it's not necessarily yelling at them and getting on the, but just correcting them and putting them in the right position to make the play the next possession."

Obviously, a big part of Crossen's practice evaluation was examining new defensive backs coach Terry Joseph's coaching style.

"I could say nothing but positive things," Crossen said. "He coaches his guys up well. When they make a mistake, he really just critiques them and tells them what they did wrong to avoid it from happening again. Then, once I see him critique them and then they make the play the next time the ball is thrown to them, I can see [Joseph] actually knows what he's talking about."

Including during the actual scrimmage, Joseph conversed with Crossen throughout his stay.

"He was just expressing to me how I'm a priority on his list and how he really just wants to see me in Carolina Blue," Crossen said. "And then he expressed to me what positions I would play, if I was there. And then he was showing me what kind of defense they were playing as the scrimmage was going on."

According to Crossen, Joseph projects Crossen to play cornerback and nickel back in UNC's defense. Additionally, he'll play safety, if needed. Crossen has primarily played cornerback for Dudley High, including starting at the position last season.

"Before my junior year at Dudley, I played some nickel and safety, so I'm a little familiar with those positions," Crossen said. "But, I'm willing to do anything. I feel like I'm versatile enough to play any position on the field."

Just as important as evaluating Joseph as a coach, Crossen is attempting to build a relationship with his potential position coach.

"The more I talk to Coach Joseph and the more I get to know him -- not only as a coach and what his philosophy is, but also as a person and see what kind of man he is -- the relationship is being built pretty well," Crossen said.

Also while on campus, Crossen spoke to Larry Fedora.

"He just repeated what Joseph said: how I'm a priority for them," Crossen said. "He talked about how he wants me to get up there more, because the more I'm up there, the more comfortable I'll be."

Crossen says he'll definitely return to UNC this spring, but he doesn't have any definite plans. The Tar Heels' spring game on April 8 is a real possibility for the return, he added.

UNC held a junior day following Saturday's scrimmage. Crossen, who attended a prior UNC junior day, was unable to attend because of a track meet.

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