Cleveland Duo Visits UNC

Butch Davis used the contacts he acquired during his days in Cleveland to make two of his first recruiting discoveries as the Tar Heel head coach – Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius's Matt Merletti and Patrick Hennessey.

"[UNC has been involved with them for] two weeks – from when Butch Davis got the job," said St. Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle. "Butch made the initial contact with me; I've known him because he was in Cleveland for awhile. He asked me about them. Recently, the assistants have taken over since then."

Tommy Thigpen has taken charge of the primary recruiting duties of the duo and has set up in-home visits with both recruits for Tuesday.

Kyle believes a scholarship offer has been extended by UNC and that both could be on the verge of verbally committing.

Davis' attraction to the pair started with their on-the-field ability and continued with their high character and intelligence.

"Both of these guys are very, very athletic," said Kyle. "They're aggressive. In highlights, [UNC] saw these two kids make major plays and they're playmakers.

"[UNC] started a little late in the recruiting venture, but they're trying to get kids down there who have good grades, good character, and are going to go down there and work hard."

Merletti is a 5-foot-11, 190-pound athlete who played tailback and defensive back for St. Ignatius. However, he's being recruited as an "offensive weapon" by UNC.

"Both offensively and defensively this year he's made some major plays," said Kyle. "He averaged over five yards-per-carry [at tailback]. He's very good out of the backfield catching the football – he was one of our leading receivers.

"One-on-one he's really tough as far making cuts and breaking away – he gives you that [LaDainian] Tomlinson thing. He's only 5-foot-11, but he makes great cuts and has good speed. He's been clocked at under 4.5 [seconds in the 40-yard dash]."

Although he was a first-team all-state selection at safety this past season, Hennessey, a 6-foot-2 210-pounder, is being recruited for linebacker.

"I think what impressed North Carolina is he came up and made a lot of powerful hits – just knocking [opponents] backwards," said Kyle. "He's also prone to making key interceptions. Athletically, he can play zone and do all that, but [what stands out] is he's kind of like a linebacker [with his ability to just] smack people."

Prior to UNC, neither prospect possessed Division I-A scholarship offers, but both fielded interest from West Virginia, Ohio, and Miami (Ohio).

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