Up Close: Shaun Draughn, Part I

TARBORO, N.C. – Usually when UNC assistant coach Kenny Browning pays a visit to a high school in North Carolina, his reputation precedes him. When Browning dropped in at Tarboro in May, he simply introduced himself and asked Vikings' coach Jeff Craddock if he had any quality Division I talent. The rest is history – athlete Shaun Draughn is now a 2006 Tar Heels commitment.

And until he was told this week, Craddock was unaware Browning had led Northern Durham to a state championship, was twice named Coach of the Year and dominated the the PAC-6 conference during his tenure. In fact, Craddock said he was even more impressed with UNC now, knowing Browning didn't walk in the door announcing his showy coaching credentials.

Craddock is an Ohio native who begins his first year as head coach this year after serving seven years as defensive coordinator under Mark Schott. He told Browning about Draughn, who had made a tremendous leap in between his sophomore and junior seasons – both physically and from a skill perspective.

"After my tenth grade year, I thought I was going to stay on the JV squad," Draughn said. "But Coach came up to me and told me I would be playing varsity. He really got me motivated to make work hard during the offseason."

But until he received his first offer following camp at UNC, Draughn went relatively unnoticed by major college programs.

Not any more. Craddock said he's now getting calls from well-known coaches across the Southeast, but insists Draughn's pledge is solid and will continue to be until he faxes in his letter of intent next February.

"He's not interested in going anywhere else," the coach said.

"I'm a die hard Carolina fan," Draughn said. "My dad always wanted to play football there, but he wasn't big enough."

Perhaps more than anything else, it was Draughn's videotape that won over Browning.

"He brought it up to camp with him and the Carolina coaches started watching it," Craddock said. "They were like, ‘We better make a move on this kid now.'

"They wanted to know how fast he was and I told them he was six-foot, 190 pounds with legitimate ‘4.5-speed,'" continued Craddock. "But his thing is his vision and being able to stop on a dime. It's his quick acceleration that makes him so tough. It's the best I've seen in years.

"I toyed with the idea of putting him at quarterback, but after watching film of him I decided to just put him in the backfield, pitch him the ball and let him just start looking. I was afraid if I put him at quarterback he would be too tight to the line and I would be taking away his natural ability from him. He's a tough runner that can spin, and he's just really, really elusive."

Defensively, Draughn began as a cornerback, but wound up playing weakside linebacker.

"That was good, because we could go man-to-man, and I could lock him up on the tight end," Craddock said. "Then last year, I moved him to safety, and this year he'll be our starting free safety."

Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow, and also Draughn's video footage will be up on the site later this week.

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