It may just be a ‘Plan B' if the Tar Heels are unable to land in-state sensations Toney Baker from Jamestown and Montario Hardesty of New Bern, or an out-of-state star like Mike Davis of Columbia (S.C.). (Baker is on record as saying he plans to commit at the 2005 Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 15 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, while Hardesty is expected to make his decision known this week.) But, HMA running backs coach Ryan Sulkowski confirmed to Inside Carolina that UNC was very interested in Curtis Brinkley, 5-10, 180, from Philadelphia and Chubb Small, 5-9, 190, of Winterhaven, Fla.
Brinkley has the better lateral moves and quickness, while Small is the better pass catcher and north-south runner, Sulkowski said.
Brinkley, who was placed at Hargrave after committing to Syracuse out of high school, led West Catholic (Penn.) to a 9-4 record as a senior, rushing 324 times for 2,813 yards (8.7 yards per carry) and 29 touchdowns. He was named Catholic League MVP by the conference's coaches.
But he has since re-opened his recruitment. He still holds his offer from the Orangemen and says he's also been offered by Ohio State.
"I had committed to Syracuse, but when I came to Hargrave, I opened it back up," Brinkley said. "Right now, I'm looking at Syracuse, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Ohio State."
"I haven't talked with the Carolina coaches, yet," he added, "but my coaches have. I'm highly interested in North Carolina. I like North Carolina."
Brinkley is about 40 points or so shy from completing a qualifying SAT score and will likely spend another semester at Hargrave before becoming eligible.
Small, on the other hand, has fulfilled his academic requirements and could begin school in the spring.
"Everybody was kind of waiting to see how I did on the test," said the 5-9, 190-pound speedster. "I haven't heard too much from Carolina, but I wouldn't mind going there. I really don't have a list of favorites right now. I'm wide open."
Small doesn't have an offer yet, but Sulkowski thinks that could change quickly.
"A lot of coaches are waiting because of his size," Sulkowski said. "But when they see him run a ‘4.3' today, I think that will change."
Scout.com recruiting analyst Miller Safrit was on hand at Hargrave and will post the numerical results from the combine soon.