Heels get big '04 commitment

North Carolina picked up an important late commitment for 2004 Wednesday as speedy Daytona Beach Mainland tailback Vince Wilson signed an institutional letter of intent to play football at UNC, his high school coach told <I>Inside Carolina</i>.

Vince Wilson reportedly chose the Tar Heels despite a late recruiting push from Florida State.

Mainland coach John Moranto confirmed the news to IC around 12:30 p.m. He said Wilson is still in Chapel Hill on his official visit, but will return to Florida sometime today. An official announcement is expected to come from UNC later today as well.

He chose Carolina because he felt comfortable with the school and the coaching staff, Moranto stated.

Wilson, whom his coach compares to NFL running back Clinton Portis, is 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, and possesses outstanding 4.3-speed.

"He strong, and when he gets hit, he's able to gain additional yards," Moranto said.

Wilson, who was chosen first team all-state by TheInsiders' Floridakids, averaged 9.74 yards per carry last season and scored 25 touchdowns.

Moranto credited UNC recruiting coordinator Brad Lawing for getting this done.

Rumor has it, though not confirmed, former Mainland and UNC basketball star Vince Carter played some type of diplomatic role in the process of landing Wilson.

From a UNC Athletic Communications release:

"Vince has tremendous ability," said UNC coach John Bunting. "He has a great burst and vision and those are the qualities you look for in a running back. He can break tackles and is a physical runner. I was impressed with his toughness. It's exciting to add a player of his ability this late in the recruiting process and I look forward to coaching him this fall."

Wilson rushed for nearly 1,900 yards as a senior at Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, the same high school that produced former Tar Heel basketball standout Vince Carter. He earned first-team all-state honors in the 5-A division, the highest classification in Florida, and was the offensive star of Mainland's 2003 5-A state championship team. The state title was the first ever for any school in Volusia County.

"Vince might be the best back in America when it comes to character, talent and effort," said Mainland high school coach John Moranto. "He works harder than any kid I've been around and he has the highest character. He's a great leader and role model that any community would want. He was tenacious in his academic work to become fully qualified.

"He's a real success story."

A two-time All-Central Florida honoree, Wilson rushed for more than 1,000 yards three times in his high school career. He is the cousin of former Florida State All-America Reinard Wilson.

Also see: Dedication pays off for Wilson

Andy Britt contributed to this report.

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