Don Callahan/Inside Carolina

Four-Star Linebacker Payton Wilson 'Felt at Home' at UNC

At a ceremony at his school, Wilson committed to UNC over fellow finalists Clemson, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech. He spoke to Inside Carolina shortly after the announcement.

Payton Wilson Commitment Q&A

When did you actually make the decision?

"I kind of knew like two weeks ago. I sat down with my family this past week -- like every night -- and just made sure it was the right one, because it's longterm decision."

Why UNC?

"J.P. [UNC assistant coach John Papuchis] was really a deciding factor. I really like him -- he was my favorite coach out of anyone that recruited me. 

"And also the guys that were there already, like Jonah [Melton and] Jake [Lawler]. I felt like I was at home when I was there."

Speaking of Melton, you've known him since elementary school. What role did he play?

"He really didn't recruit me, because he went through the same thing. He knew I was going to choose what was best for me. So, he didn't really put that pressure on me.

"He kind of helped me out -- going up there with him and seeing how life is up there."

You were really thorough with the recruiting process. What schools did you visit?

"This last fall, I went to some big games like Penn State-Ohio State [and] Clemson-South Carolina. And then I visited Clemson a bunch, Virginia Tech, [and] UNC [for games]. I really enjoyed going to those big games with 100,000 people there. That was pretty cool.

"During the offseason, I just went on one-on-one visits a lot just so I could sit down with the coaches and talk with them. Like, my top seven, I went to all of them, except Alabama."

Will you take future visits to anywhere outside of UNC?

"It's all UNC. I want to respect them, because I hope they're not going out and recruiting other guys to fill my spot. I want to respect them."

Do you plan on recruiting for UNC? If so, who do you have your eye on?

"I feel like I will. They're going to be my teammates, so I want the best ones. Dax [Hollifield and] Jordyn [Adams are some of my targets]. There's already two guys committed, so they'll be helping me out with that."

When will you enroll?

"In January. I'm an early enrollee.

"Not just UNC, but every coach has said it's a great thing because you're lifting with the team [and] you get your schoolwork in. When you come in in the summer, you're kind of behind, I feel like. It's just a great opportunity to enroll early."

Where do the UNC coaches see you fitting into its defense?

"Coach Eke [Mike Ekeler] said all three [linebacker spots]. He said I'm so versatile I could play any of the three."

Have you looked at UNC's LB depth chart?

"Well, you know Cayson Collins, he's leaving when I come in; so I feel like that will give me a good shot [at seeing the field]. Cole Holcomb is graduating, as well. So, there's going to be some openings."

You're also a standout wrestler. Any thoughts on pursuing that in college?

"No, I don't want to wrestle in college. I want to focus strictly on football."

How does it feel to get your commitment out of the way?

"It's relieving. I'll probably miss the recruiting process, but it's relieving. It's kind of cool meeting like Urban Meyer and talking to Nick Saban and all that attention. But, I'm kind of glad that it's over."

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