Ohio LB May Camp at UNC

Butch Davis' connections from his days in the Cleveland area have led the Tar Heel staff to Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward linebacker Justin Staples.

"Before Butch Davis took the job at North Carolina, he was up at our school, because he was friends with our old head coach," said Staples, a 6-foot-3 215-pound prospect. "So he's watched us practice. Once he got the job at North Carolina, we started to get interest from North Carolina."

UNC assistant coach Steve Hagen started off as Staples' lead recruiter for the Tar Heels, but LB coach Tommy Thigpen has since taken it over. Staples said Thigpen text messages him multiple times per week, while Staples calls Thigpen "every once in a while."

"He's just talking about how they have a need for linebacker and how he thinks I can fit into their system," said Staples. "He likes me as a player.

"We talk about how I want to major in criminal justice and another guy that's going there is majoring in criminal justice from the Cleveland area."

Thigpen has also talked about a possibility of a UNC scholarship offer.

"They want to see me in camp [before they offer]," said Staples. "I was going to go to the camp on the 20th, but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make it because we have a family reunion that I wasn't aware of. If I can get out of the family reunion, I'll be down there. If not, I'll try to get down there for an unofficial and bring film."

Approximately 20 schools have offered Staples a scholarship including Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, NC State, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Syracuse, and Virginia.

Working full time this summer has prevented Staples from attending any camps or unofficial visits. However, he has been able to clear out some time over the next month to make trips to Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Syracuse.

During the winter, Staples visited Cincinnati, Northwestern, and Ohio State. He also made a quick pit stop in Chapel Hill on his way to Myrtle Beach for an AAU tournament last December.

"I got to go around the campus a little bit," said Staples. "I really liked the campus. It seemed like a really good area and I like that it's hot year-round pretty much. So I pretty much have good impressions of it."

With so much visiting and researching left to do, Staples hasn't begun to develop any favorites.

"I haven't been able to name any favorites yet, just because I don't want to narrow things down until I get to see some of the schools that have offered just so I can compare them," said Staples.

Distance will not be a factor, he said, because his mother is a flight attendant, and therefore his family gets free airfare.

As a junior, Staples accumulated 59 tackles including 15 for a loss and four sacks. He forced three fumbles and recovered four.

Justin Staples Profile

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