Coming off a stellar recruiting class in 2003, the Tar Heels are logging countless frequent flyer points and travel expense reports pounding the recruiting trail. Carolina currently has 14 known commitments for 2004.
"We're farther along with recruiting now than we probably were at this time last year," Bunting told Inside Carolina. "I've got to get some secondary guys – we've got to finish that off.
Despite being on the hot seat, at least with some fans, Bunting was well received at Hargrave, entertaining coaches, players and autographing footballs for kids.
He said he hopes that the fan base understands the transition that the program is in, but that it is clearly heading in the right direction.
"We're back in the weight program and the kids are learning what it takes to win," Bunting said. "I had four players singing Christmas carols outside of my window last night, and I feel good about that, too."
All reaffirmed their UNC commitments.
Mitchell was as impressive as any of the 2003 re-signees this season, sparking recent interest from Georgia coaches. But when asked if he was still solid to Carolina, Mitchell nodded to the affirmative.
Carolina is also interested in a trio of available Tigers: linebacker Antonio Reynolds (6-4, 245, Akron, Ohio), tight end Anthony Hill (6-7, 250, Houston, Texas) and wide receiver Armand Cauthen (6-1, 195, Douglasville, Ga.).
Reynolds is perhaps the most coveted of the three, with a four-star ranking by The Insiders. He signed his national letter of intent with Miami two years ago, but failed to qualify. He chose Hargrave over the JuCo route.
Carolina will have its work cut out getting him however, as Reynolds seems to be leaning towards Virginia Tech. He has offers from UNC, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Tennessee and West Virginia, among others.
As it stands right now, UNC's only tight ends on scholarship next year will be sophomore Jon Hamlett and senior ETSU transfer Scott Brumett. For that reason, the Tar Heel coaches are high on Hill, who is reported to be equally skilled blocking and catching the ball.
"I'm just trying to find out where I feel at home," Hill said. "I got a whole lot of schools coming in. UNC, N.C. State, Florida, Texas and Tennessee are my favorites."
Hill has yet to see the UNC campus, but he has set an official visit for Jan. 18. He has offers from the Tar Heels and Wolfpack, as well as Clemson, Baylor and Virginia Tech.
"UNC is a good school and I like that they throw the ball there," Cauthen said. "It's a good place to get an education. I like Coach Bunting a lot. He has nothing but positive things to say. He's a good coach."
Cauthen said he "definitely" believes Carolina is a team that's stock is rising.
Photos by Andy Britt.