North Carolina head coach John Bunting and assistant Rod Broadway made it clear to Person they want to use him as a defensive back, primarily due to the Tar Heels' future depth at running back.
"The projections from the Carolina folks as a defensive back, which I think is valid," Whitehurst said. "But the thing that makes him so intriguing is when the ball is in his hands."
Person said his decision to give up his offensive options in college was in equal part due to his love for the defensive back position combined with his love for UNC.
"When you are a good cover corner, you are the man," he said. "You've got receivers coming at you…if you can cover receivers and tackle, it shows a lot about you to be one of the most athletic people on the field.
"I take a lot of pride in that. A lot of people underrate them, but a good defensive back is hard to find."
Person averaged 20 points per game as a point guard as a junior. During the 2001-02 NCHSAA 2-A basketball playoffs held at the Smith Center, Person outplayed several future Division I recruits.
The Tar Heels' coaching staff then began to move quickly.
Bunting made a call to Whitehurst to tell him that Carolina was interested in Person on defense, but that he probably would not get to play running back.
After dominating at the NIKE combines and during a group visit to Chapel Hill, Bunting took Person aside and up to his office – something that does not happen to just every prospect that gets invited for a visit – and a scholarship offer was made.
Person was impressed.
"Some of the coaches had never seen my face, they had just seen me on film," Person said. "But as soon as I went there, they knew me and introduced me to the coaching staff.
"They're really hands on and they have good personalities. You can tell by the way they act towards you that they have a close relationship with them."
Person has kept a watchful eye on the Bunting era in Chapel Hill. He appreciates that the Tar Heels' traditional non-conference opponents such as Furman and William & Mary, have been replaced by the likes of Oklahoma and Miami.
"They're notorious as a basketball school, but you have to respect some of the things they are doing football-wise," Person said. "Playing people who are better than you…that's going to make you better."
While Person's coach likens him to Washington Redskins' veteran Champ Bailey, Person considers himself more in the mold of former North Carolina All-America and St. Louis Rams' defensive back ‘Dre Bly.
"A lot of people are good football players, but you've got to have ‘football sense' to make plays," Person said. "It's like the ability to see things unfold as they are happening. It's a big part of what I do.
"Carolina is a good school and they always have good corners, so the coaches have to be doing something right."