Up Close: Albert Craddock, Part I

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Albert Craddock says his verbal commitment to Carolina remains intact, however he still has visits planned to other schools. Securing Craddock is of such importance to the Tar Heels that a caravan containing nearly every UNC football coach arrived at SW Guilford last week.

"They were here basically just to check up and make sure everything was going great," Craddock, a 6-3, 200-pound linebacker at High Point (N.C.) S.W. Guilford, told Inside Carolina from his school on Wednesday. "They wanted to make sure I was staying focused and on track with school and everything I need to do.

"I'm still committed, but there are still a couple of colleges I would like to look at – just to look around. I always like to keep my eyes open."

But while the Tar Heels coaches would like to extend as much freedom to their top prospects to continue their interests in other schools, college football recruiting is a highly competitive process even in its most peaceful times.

Add in-conference rivals Virginia Tech and Clemson, which along with N.C. State have now offered, and Craddock's final courtship could turn into a war.

"I think they've gone about it the best way they can in the recruiting process, and they remain consistent," Cowboys coach Bryan Davis said of the UNC staff. "It was flattering to us that they brought the whole coaching staff for a second visit. Coach [John] Bunting and Coach [Marvin] Sanders have invested the most interest in this. And Coach [Frank] Cignetti, Coach [Kenny] Browning and Coach [Tommy] Thigpen…they were here as well.

"It means a lot to Albert that they would do something like that, and I think that's something that goes a long way with him."

Back on March 3, following the announcement he had committed to Carolina, Craddock told IC, "[UNC] has such a great school, great coaches, and I fit right in with their defense. I think it is perfect for me."

But shortly after returning home from his visit to Chapel Hill, Davis suggested Craddock step back and take a closer look at this decision.

"When the whole thing came down and Carolina was his first place to visit, we essentially sat down with his family and everybody involved and said, ‘Slow down and make sure this is what you want to do. And at the end of the process if Carolina is still it, then that's where you need to be.'

"But Carolina's going to be a tough to place to beat, I would think in his mind, because right now, everybody has to compare to the ‘Baby Blue.' He's been over there so many times, that next place is going to have to be something special to deter him from going to North Carolina."

While the protective way he has handled Craddock's recruitment may upset some Tar Heel fans, Davis is taking on the role of much more than a coach in this situation. He's a genuine father figure, whom Craddock credits, along with his mother, for helping him turn a troubled past into a promising and successful adulthood.

"They're doing the right things at North Carolina," Davis said. "They're doing a real good job of making sure they put Albert's individual needs at the forefront, so he knows when he gets there he's going to be able to grow and adapt into any situation he desires to be."

Learn more about Craddock's maturity and escape from common teenage pitfalls through his success on the football field in Part II coming tomorrow…

Albert Craddock profile

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