Up Close: T.J. Yates, Part II

MARIETTA, Ga. --- There will be no promise breeched with Atlanta Metro First-Team All-Area quarterback T.J. Yates. A year ago, a one-time UNC commitment named Cade Thompson from Tennessee jilted the Tar Heels over the Christmas holidays to join South Carolina, just weeks after telling Inside Carolina his verbal to Carolina was rock solid.

Click here for Part I which ran on Monday.

No need to worry this time around though; Steve Spurrier won't get to Yates, nor will any other "Old Ball Coaches" that specialize in last-minute commitment thefts.

"I don't allow any other college coaches to talk to T.J.," said Bob Swank, who served as an assistant at Buffalo State, Toledo and Methodist College in Fayetteville, N.C. before leading 5-A Pope High School to a 4-6 record in his first year as the Greyhounds' head coach.

When asked directly if his verbal commitment to UNC was solid, Yates replied without hesitation, "Yes. Definitely."

Teaming up with Swank in preserving the security of Yates' commitment is UNC assistant Tommy Thigpen, who recruits the greater Atlanta area for the Tar Heels. He still stops in to check on Yates about once a week. In fact, he was having dinner with the entire family last Thursday when Inside Carolina called to set up the interview for this feature.

"He came last week to watch one of my basketball games and he came this week to one of my practices," Yates said. "Then he came [to my] home."

With the graduation of senior Matt Baker, the Tar Heels' starting quarterback position is up for grabs. While Yates realizes there will be plenty of competition for the slot in coming years, it's the belief that he can ultimately win the battle.

Of course, the Tar Heels have not yet named a new quarterbacks coach to replace retiring Gary Tranquill, but on the other hand, the transition really shouldn't affect Yates since he won't join the team until well after the change has been established.

"It really doesn't' bother me that much," Yates said. "I knew Coach Tranquill was going to retire and they told me Coach Brock might be the new quarterbacks coach, but they don't know yet.

"Most schools had their quarterback in place and already have two or three committed in this class. I thought it was a good opportunity."

Considering his success on the field this season, it's hard to imagine he didn't even play football his junior year. But he clarifies he only sat out in order to focus on basketball, but has played organized football for much of his life.

After Yates' first couple of games as a starting quarterback, Swank said he felt sure he had something special. So he placed a call to long-time friend, Marty Galbreath, an NFL scout with the Tennesse Titans to get a another opinion.

"I asked him to come down and see my new quarterback," Swank said. "I wanted to be sure I wasn't getting carried away. But after a few more games, I knew he was for real."

T.J. Yates Profile


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