Heels pursue three at Hargrave

The Tar Heels are creating a pipeline from Chatham, Va. to Chapel Hill. With a commitment already from one top talent at Hargrave Military Academy (Va.), the UNC staff is eying three other prospects at the school.

CHATHAM, Va. -- Few can argue any of North Carolina's newcomers have made more of an impact than freshman wide receiver-kick returner Derelle Mitchell. He had 45 catches for 850 yards and eight touchdowns at Hargrave Military Academy last season, before fitting neatly among the Tar Heels' already-talented crop of receivers.

The rich talent pipeline available at Hargrave is not unique to UNC. At least 50 of the 71 players on Hargrave's roster should play for Division I schools in 2003.

Future North Carolina linebacker and current Hargrave defensive end Melik Brown is one of 13 already committed. Brown, who failed to qualify as a senior out of Woodrow Wilson High School (Camden, N.J.), is making the most of his prep year at Hargrave.

He took his Standard Aptitude Test (SAT) on Saturday and feels confident that he did well.

"Acadmically – from what the teachers tell me -- he has really stepped it up," Hargrave head coach Robert Prunty said. "He feels like he made his score last Saturday."

Shane Lucas

According to Prunty (Alabama A&M '88), UNC coaches are actively recruiting as many as three more of his players.

"I talked to Carolina yesterday," Prunty said. "They are definitely and highly interested in Shane Lucas, Corey Gordon and Ma'tron Church.

"They have said they are going to [offer], so we're just waiting on them."

Lucas, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive tackle prospect from Angier, is the best known of the three. UNC and NC State are vying hard for his services, along with Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Mississippi and "just about everybody in the country," Prunty said.

"I have to talk with my coach and parents," Lucas said. "I'm not 100-percent on any school right now. I would like to take all of my visits and then decide from there."

However, Lucas did say that he would love to play at Carolina and remain close to home.

"It is about 45 minutes from my house and my parents would be able to go to a lot of my games," he said. "The coaches are real nice and they have great facilities. They are one of the top schools in the nation. I have friends that go there and it's a really nice place."

Church, a 6-2, 235-pound linebacker from St. Petersburg, Fla., is a "big time player," Prunty said.

Ma'tron Church

His brother is Marcello Church is a back-up linebacker for Florida State.

"Ma'tron's a physical specimen," Prunty said.

Church is most interested in North Carolina, FSU and Florida.

"I have to consult with my parents. Carolina is definitely one of the top three, with FSU and Florida," Church said. "FSU has offered. I don't know about Carolina.

"From what I've seen, [UNC] is awesome," he said. "They made a very good impression on me. That's top class right there.

"I would enjoy going to that school, but right now all my options are open."

Hargrave strong safety-wide receiver Corey Gordon (6-3, 200, Gainesville, Fla.) has made his decision. He is just waiting on a call from Carolina to make the offer.

"Carolina is on the top of my list right now," Gordon said. "They have shown the most interest in me. I respect them for that, and I thank them for showing so much interest in me. I've had some other schools offer me, but I like Carolina a lot. It's very nice up there.

According to Gordon, Maryland and Tennessee have made offers, and he is also keeping an ear open to Wake Forest and Mississippi. But Gordon makes it no secret that he is anxiously waiting on the official word from UNC.

"Coach [Jim] Fleming and I stay in touch," Gordon said. "He said the decision is coming close and that he hopes it will come through for me."

Coach Prunty

"[Gordon] hits like a ton of bricks," Prunty said.

Prunty's phone is ringing off the hook these days and he has recruiters and reporters making appointments. During the hour or so I spent with him, he must have said, "I love John Bunting" at least a dozen times.

It would appear the Tar Heels connection with Hargrave is only going to get stronger as the years go on.

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