North Carolina's tight end depth chart consists of five scholarship players with none expected to leave until after the 2018 season. Thus, UNC isn't exactly in the market for tight ends this cycle. However, the staff is willing to find space within this class for a prospect of Tyneil Hopper's caliber.
"[The UNC coaches] said that I could fit great in the offense and they really want me," Hopper said. "They think I can be a flexible guy for them. They're saying they're really interested -- they're not saying commit right now or anything -- but they said they're very interested and they're going to keep recruiting me hard."
The Tar Heels are one of 14 schools to offer Hopper, a 6-foot-2, 219-pounder from Roswell (Ga.) High. In addition to the Heels, his list of offers features Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, Louisville, South Carolina, and Wake Forest.
Sometime during the summer, Hopper plans to release a list of favorite schools, consisting of eight to 10 programs. The attention UNC has shown will go a long way in helping it make the cut.
"I'd say the schools that actually keep in contact with me, I'm highly interested in," Hopper said. "I pretty much talk to all of the schools -- Wake Forest, Louisville, North Carolina, Illinois. And I talk to some schools that haven't even offered me yet, like Florida and Georgia."
In addition to the attention its staff has shown, UNC possesses another unmatched advantage. Hopper admits to feeling differently when walking around Chapel Hill than at any other school. Some of that is knowing his older brother, Tyrone, walks the same campus. And some of it is because it is the flagship university of his birth state (he moved to Georgia when he was six years old).
"I'd say it's always going to be different, because it's where I'm from and I like being around my brother," Hopper said. "I don't want to say that I don't want to play with my brother, because it's my brother. But I'll play against him and I'll play with him -- it doesn't really matter to me.
"But, it's really not, 'I'm going to commit because of my brother is there.' I really like North Carolina and I know North Carolina likes me. I'm keeping my options open just to make sure I choose the right school that fits me."
Though blood is thicker than water, playing for a football power like Roswell means Hopper sees familiar faces ostensibly on every recruiting visit. Most notably, his quarterback last year, Malik Willis, is at Auburn and former Hornets receiver Corey Reed will enroll at Louisville this summer.
"Really, it's not just that I know someone there, it depends on how I feel about the school and how hard they're recruiting me," Hopper said.
Speaking of recruiting visits, Hopper has made so many this offseason that it's difficult for him to accurately list all of his stops. Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Georgia, Mississippi State, UNC, NC State, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wake Forest is a sampling. He plans to return to Alabama this weekend, and is considering a trip to West Virginia before the summer.
Hopper's most recent trip to UNC was for its March junior day. Attendees were invited to watch that morning's scrimmage, which immediately preceded the event. Hopper took advantage of the opportunity to appraise its tight ends.
"Mainly, I was looking at how they use the tight ends in the blocking and pass game," Hopper said. "I thought they used the tight ends equally as blockers and as receivers, which was good.
"I liked watching the scrimmage [overall]. The guys got a little hyped and they were rattled up. A little fight almost broke out, but it was alright."
During the actual junior day, Hopper ate lunch with Chad Scott, UNC's tight ends coach.
"Coach Scott wants me to come back and I'm thinking about doing that maybe during the summer," Hopper said.
Hopper, who was accompanied by cousins/fellow recruits Cordel Littlejohn and Tyron Hopper, spent the rest of the day on campus hanging out with his brother.