'Close To Offer?'

CHATHAM, Va. – North Carolina is "close to offering" Hargrave's Ernie Hodge, coach Robert Prunty said during the Tigers' media day on Friday. Prunty said he was told that by Tar Heels assistant Kenny Browning, who pursued the Dublin (Va.) Pulaski County defensive end at one point last season.

Like most of his new Tigers teammates, including UNC verbal commitment Darrius Massenburg, Ernie Hodge needed to prep in order to improve his academic package.

"North Carolina has shown the most interest in me," Hodge said. "Maryland and Virginia Tech have also been asking about me. N.C. State sends me letters sometimes."

Hodge, 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, recorded 100 tackles in his senior year to go with 13 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.

"Ernie is really a coach's player," Hargrave assistant Ryan Sulkowski said. "He does anything you ask of him. He's one of those guys that obviously needed a second look, and he's caught on real well here."

When classes begin later this month, Hodge said his emphasis will be improving his SAT score.

"I like Carolina," he said. "It's pretty down there. I really like the coaching staff. They tell me they're real close to offering me if I can get my work done."

Prunty also said Browning has been asking about Gretna (Va.) linebacker Horace Hubbard, who wanted to follow high school teammate Vicqual Hall and commit to Virginia in March of last year.

But the Cavs never extended him an offer. Hubbard, 6-4, 240, who runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, must improve his SAT score, too.

"I played as well as I could have my senior year," Hubbard said. "A lot of teams would just run away from me because I was such a great player. Mainly, I had to adjust to that. I love defense. I love to hit people and bring the pain.

No offers yet and Hubbard said he hasn't spoken personally to Browning since early last year, but his interests include Virginia Tech and UNC, along with Virginia.

"Those two guys coming in here – Hodge and Hubbard – unsigned, they're just two phenomenal guys. There not going to be (second team) players even with the talent we have on defense. They're going to be like ‘1A and 1B.'"

Along with Massenburg, Carolina has offered Hargrave wide receiver extraordinaire Vidal Hazelton, who lists Florida State, Miami, USC, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Florida (all offered) as his favorites.

However, the Scout.com five-star prospect did say he hadn't ruled out any of the schools that have offered him, including UNC.

"You never know what might happen on a visit," Sulkowski said. "With a place like North Carolina, anything can happen."

Still to come, in-depth interview with Massenburg…

Inside Carolina Top Stories