Up Close: Bryon Bishop, Part I (FREE)

The days of costly indecision are now in the past for 2004 UNC commitment Bryon Bishop. A set of circumstances that seemed to keep him one step behind in his recruitment, ended when he signed a scholarship agreement to play for the Tar Heels on April 20.

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It got so bad late in the process that earlier in the month, Bishop -- the No. 31 prospect in South Carolina, according to Super Prep -- reportedly signed to play his college football at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Union (S.C.) tackle had scholarship offers from South Carolina and Clemson rescinded after he waited to make his verbal commitment. To further complicate matters, he failed to make his qualifying SAT score by the time Signing Day had rolled around.

"I kind of got in a bind," Bishop said.

The Tar Heels had been recruiting Bishop for most of the 2003 calendar year as well, but Bishop's mind was made up for the most part -- he simply needed to decide if he wanted to play offense for the Gamecocks or on the defensive side of the ball for the Tigers.

"It was a hard choice; I liked them both the same," Bishop said. "But I liked North Carolina, too. I didn't get up there in time for my official visit."

Bishop, who played most of his career on the defensive line before switching to offensive tackle as a senior, recorded 60 tackles and six sacks as a junior.

According to Yellow Jackets coach Mike Anthony, both Clemson and USC wanted Bishop, but when he would not commit, they each filled his scholarship slot. At that point, with his Division I dreams apparently dashed and his academic situation up in the air, Bishop started looking at smaller schools.

"I've got coaches from Mars Hill coming in, and Georgia Southern also," he told The Spartanburg Herald on Feb. 4. "That's about it."

S.C. State, N.C. Central and N.C. A&T, along with Coffeyville, were other options.

However, just as he did in a similar situation with recent 2004 signee Vince Wilson from Daytona Beach, UNC recruiting coordinator Brad Lawing, as well as Union's primary recruiter Andre' Powell, kept close tabs on Bishop just in case.

As soon as Bishop learned that he had achieved his necessary SAT score on his last attempt, the news was broadcast on the team's web site. And when the Tar Heel coaches learned of the development, Lawing called Union's offensive line coach Kevin Lancaster to see if Bishop might still be interested in UNC.

Carolina's persistence impressed Bishop the most.

"They were still interested in me," he said.

Bishop came to Chapel Hill on April 15 for what was classified as an official visit, although he didn't workout for the coaches. There was still enough time for Bishop to visit the campus, and ultimately accept a scholarship offer to enroll in August.

"They already had a tape of me up there," Bishop said. "They evaluated it and they liked me."

Which side of the ball Bishop will play at UNC has yet to be determined. For more on that decision and what impact he could have on the Tar Heels rebuilding efforts, stay tuned for Part II tomorrow.

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