Prior to his decision to become a Tar Heel, 2004 commitment Ben Lemming was leaning towards Boston College. He returned from his trip there and was pleased. He also took a trip to Chicago to visit with the Northwestern coaching staff.
Then after UNC assistant Hal Hunter offered Lemming practically on the spot while at his high school, he didn't commit right away. But he knew he would. Upon returning from the subsequent visit to the UNC campus, Lemming had Carolina written all over his face.
"When he came back from his trip to Northwestern, it was kind of like Boston College – ‘You know I like them, but I'm going to keep my options open,'" Houston Strake Jesuit coach Ron Counter recalled. "But when he came back from North Carolina, you could tell it was a done deal.
"He's a great kid and great player. I think North Carolina is really getting a good one in Ben."
While Lemming's 5.4-second recorded time in the 40-yard dash is more than respectable for an offensive lineman, he plays much faster than that. He has quick feet, and doesn't stop looking to spring a ball carrier open even when the play has progressed well beyond the line of scrimmage.
"He can really run," Counter said. "We had a play the other day in a game where he was 40 or 50 yards downfield sprinting with the back running for a touchdown. He can really move for a big guy. He doesn't have blazing speed, but for a 6-4, 270 guy, he can really get downfield.
"He's real good at pulling, and we pull him a lot. We don't throw the ball as much as people in college do, but he is going to be a good pass blocker also. He's a well-rounded, good offensive lineman."
Remarkably, the UNC coaching staff has continued its solid recruiting despite a combined 4-16 record over the past season and a half. Offensive linemen were and will likely always be a position of emphasis for all schools, so getting Lemming's commitment early sets the stage for another great year recruiting this season.
Mounting losses on the field doesn't appear to be swaying current commitments, prospects or the 2003 re-signees. Lemming said Carolina need not worry about him wavering.
"Definitely," he said. "It's been a rough season, but I know this is a rebuilding year. I think its going to turn around in the next year or two.
"I'm really excited. It's all about life and different things. You can always come back. I would like to try something new in my life, and that is what North Carolina is going to give me the opportunity to do."
"We're ecstatic over his decision to go to UNC," his father Jim added.
"He's 6-foot-4 and has a chance to grow and get bigger," said Counter. "He's a real smart kid, obviously, with great grades. He's got a great family. I just think he is going to be a player for North Carolina."