UNC Enters Haden's Favorites List

Already a veteran of the recruiting scene, Josh Haden decided to narrow down his list of options to three schools a couple of months ago to alleviate calls, mail, etc.

However, two weeks ago, a fourth school squeezed its way into the fray – North Carolina.

"They are definitely in the top – they're included with Florida, Michigan, and Boston College," Haden said of the Tar Heels.

"Just in talking to my coach, he was telling about the running back situation [at UNC], so I'm really considering them now. He really didn't tell me everything, but he said they're bringing in one running back for the class of 2008 … and they're going to run a two running back set."

Haden, a 5-foot-7 190-pound athlete from Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly, arrived on the recruiting scene well over a year ago with the label of "Joe Haden's brother." A few combine performances later, the label was shed and Haden had received his first scholarship offer – albeit a verbal one due to NCAA rules – from Illinois.

At last year's Scout.com All-American Combine, Haden turned heads when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, 20-yard shuttle in 4.10 seconds, and three-cone drill in 7.25 seconds. He also vertically jumped 37.5 inches and broad jumped 9-feet-11.

Haden followed that up by setting the all-time Sparq record for a sophomore – 111.5 – at the Penn State Nike Combine. The performance was highlighted by his 45 bench repetitions of 185 pounds.

Following those combines, North Carolina – among others – joined Illinois by extending a scholarship offer.

Haden is now up to 14 official scholarship offers including Boston College, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers, and Tennessee.

Tommy Thigpen is recruiting Haden for North Carolina.

"I get a lot of mail [from UNC] telling me about the school, telling me about the program," said Haden. "I don't really get text messages or anything like that, but I'll straighten that all out once I go back up to North Carolina and get in touch with all the new coaches."

Haden, who camped at UNC as a freshman, hasn't scheduled his trip to Chapel Hill yet, but will visit both UNC and Michigan before the summer is out. He also figures to visit his brother at Florida in the near future. In the beginning of June, Haden will unofficially visit Boston College.

"I just want to go to all of my top schools, get a good feel, talk to my parents about it, sit down and figure out what's best for me," said Haden.

Haden plans to make a verbal commitment before the start of his senior season after the four aforementioned visits have been taken.

"I'm not really looking at depth charts, because all Division I schools are going to have players there and I'm going to have to work hard to get playing time," said Haden. "I'm going to look at the coaches – the coaches I get along with, the coaches I feel comfortable with, really the coaches that I feel are real coaches. And the school I feel most comfortable at, because it's going to be a place I will be at for the next four years."

Not playing much of a factor in his decision is Haden's brother Joe, who enrolled at Florida in January.

"He tells me a lot of good stuff about Florida, but he's not recruiting me, he's not telling me I should go there," said Haden. "He's really telling me to make the best decision for me."

With both Hadens in Friendly's backfield last fall – Joe at quarterback and Josh at tailback – the Patriots were dominating as they went undefeated and won the 3A State Championship. Friendly defeated their opponents by an average score of 42-8.

Haden shared carries with Lamaar Thomas, but still rushed for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. A factor in the passing game, Haden turned three receptions into scores. He also starts at linebacker – where he collected 110 tackles – and returns punts and kicks.

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