Carolina on Wilson's mind

Daytona Beach's Vince Wilson was the last player to commit to North Carolina for 2004, but that doesn't mean he was the least important – far from it. On Wednesday, he spoke to <I>Inside Carolina</I> about the details that led to his last minute recruitment.

Vince Wilson was pursued by many top schools but some backed away when it was believed he had no chance to qualify.

"I had dug myself a big hole," Wilson said. "By my junior year, I realized that I had a chance to play Division-I football. It was then I decided that I would do whatever it took, and work as hard as it takes to qualify. North Carolina was there when I did qualify. They are the school that I will go to. There is no chance that I will go anywhere else."

Those sentiments were echoed by Mainland High School Coach John Maronto: "There were some schools that still wanted to pursue Vince. One school in particular was insistent about recruiting him. Vince made up his mind and both of us have too much respect for the North Carolina program to allow that to happen. Vince made it clear and I told the other school that he did not want any further contact from other Division-1 schools."

Wilson grew up a Florida State fan, as he went to games to watch his cousin Reinard Wilson play.

"They were the team that I dreamed about playing for," Wilson said. "They told me that as soon as I qualified that they had a scholarship waiting for me except it was for cornerback. I have never played cornerback in my life. Once I got qualified, I thought about the Florida State offer, but in my heart I knew that I wanted to be a running back."

Shortly after hearing that he qualified, Vince saw UNC assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Brad Lawing, who was at Maitland to watch some of Wilson's teammates.

"My coach told him that I had qualified, and right after that, I was off on my official visit to Chapel Hill," Wilson said. "They wanted me as a running back and I knew that North Carolina was the place for me.

"I met some of the North Carolina players like Mahlon Carey, Adarius Bowman, and Larry Edwards who I played against in the state championship game a couple of years ago. I really got along well with the players. Mahlon Carey called me the other night to see how I was doing and offer me advice about getting ready for Division-1 football."

Maronto coached and Wilson played for the state championship team. Vince was the offensive captain for that team.

"It was the greatest experience," Maronto said. "It was awesome to me how 40 or so athletes can unselfishly worked toward a common goal. It wasn't about the individual players; it was about the team. I'll never forget those guys. They are like family to me. If they ever need anything then they can just call me up and ask and if I can possibly help then I will."

Several of Wilson's teammates are being recruited by North Carolina.

"I'll never tell them where they should go to school and I won't tell them they should go to North Carolina, because I go there but I will let them know why I chose North Carolina and they will certainly be welcomed as far as I am concerned." Wilson said.

Finally, Wilson spoke of what it might be like to be on the field against the Seminoles instead of with them.

"Those will be special days," he said. "My old teammate Buster Davis might be facing me at LB when I get a chance to play. That would be something. For the next several years I will be pumped even more so than usual for those games. To the Carolina fans I say this, ‘I am not cocky, in fact I hate cocky people; but this summer I will work as hard as I can. I am not looking to take anyone's place (on the depth chart) and maybe the only place I can help out is special teams, but sooner or later I'll get a chance and hopefully we can share some good times."

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