Having completely seen the athletic side during previous visits, four-star defensive lineman Alim McNeill returned to North Carolina on Saturday with the intent of fully exploring the school from an academic standpoint.
Accompanied by his father, McNeill, a 6-foot-3, 270-pounder from Raleigh (N.C.) Sanderson, arrived on campus at 8:30 a.m. The visit concentrated so much on academics that they departed hours before UNC's spring game was set to kick off later that afternoon. Much of their stay was consumed by a campus tour and a meeting with an academic adviser.
"[The academic adviser] just talked about what classes I would need for my major, because I'm trying to do physical therapy," McNeill said. "It was nice. I liked everything about it. I felt very comfortable. All my questions were answered."
The visit did nothing but improve UNC's chances with the nation's 28th ranked defensive end.
"North Carolina, they're very high on my list -- very, very high," McNeill said.
Holding 31 scholarship offers, McNeill describes his recruitment as "hectic." To calm the process, he plans to pare his list of schools under consideration to a dozen or less in a month or so. He says all the in-state programs are guaranteed a seat.
"Location is a big thing," McNeill said. "And I have a lot of interest in those [in-state] schools, as well.
"There isn't like a leading school -- I'm very comfortable with all of them right now. It's just a matter of visiting again and seeing everything about it."
In addition to proximity, the out-of-state schools are at a disadvantage because of the lack of trips McNeill has made outside of NC's borders. Clemson and Virginia Tech are the only out-of-state visits he has made. However, that will change next week when he travels to Florida and Florida State.
McNeill's Saturday visit to UNC wasn't completely void of football. His stay included a meeting with Deke Adams, the Tar Heels defensive line coach.
"He just talked about overall what he wants to do with me in their packages and what they've been doing lately in spring practice and how he sees me fitting in there," McNeill said.
McNeill epitomizes a "jumbo athlete." He plays linebacker and running back for Sanderson High at 270 pounds. Although most recruiters project him to move to D-line, there are some that believe he could remain a linebacker in college.
UNC is technically in the former group, but envisions packages where McNeill drops into coverage like a linebacker. During Saturday's meeting, Adams mentioned former Tar Heel greats Kareem Martin and Sylvester Williams. Williams was a pocket imploding D-tackle during his UNC career, but Martin played every positions along the Heels' D-line.
"I think it would be great that I could move around like that," McNeill said. "They would set up more packages so that I could attack the quarterback more."
After meeting with Adams, McNeill and his father sat down with Larry Fedora.
"He touched on just how successful I could be at UNC and how it's a great place there," McNeill said. "He talked about how he has great coaches there and how I could be close to home. He just talked about everything about UNC football and how it is there."
A little over a month before this most recent visit, McNeill attended UNC's exclusive junior day. The event was held in conjunction with the basketball game against Duke.
"It was a great visit," McNeill said. "It was a good basketball game, of course. But, everything about that junior day was great. I loved everything about it. I got to meet all the coaches and see the great guys that they are. I was real comfortable talking with all the coaches and building relationships. The way they set the tone there, I can see that's how UNC football really is."