HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. --- North Carolina fended off national powers to keep four-star linebacker Payton Wilson from leaving the state. It's the second time the Tar Heels have achieved such a feat in less than a week.
"I'll be committing to the University of North Carolina," he declared during Monday's announcement from the Orange Senior High School gym.
Wilson, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound linebacker, selected UNC over fellow finalists Clemson, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech. Alabama, Georgia, and Penn State were also under consideration, but eliminated about a month ago.
Last Tuesday, UNC warded off a similar crop of schools to secure Dyami Brown's verbal commitment. A third in-state four-star prospect, Avery Jones, rounds out the Heels' commitment list. All three are nationally ranked in the Scout 300.
As a junior, Wilson made 127 tackles, including 39 for a loss and 13 sacks, for a 12-1 squad. He also averaged nine yards on 84 rushes and accumulated 1,061 yards and 16 touchdowns from scrimmage. He's ranked the No. 14 outside linebacker in the nation by Scout.
"I describe him as a rubber-band that's pulled tight all the time," former Orange head coach Pat Moser said. "He has a motor that won't quit. He plays with a very high intensity. He's a big-time competitor and he has all the tools. You're talking about a kid who's 6-foot-4 1/2 and weighs about 220 pounds and runs a 4.6 forty. And he could play really anywhere on the field."
Wilson also excels in wrestling. This past February he capped a 43-0 season by claiming the NCHSAA 3A 220-pound championship.