Tenn. LB says Heels in front

North Carolina is doing its best to snatch up out-of-state recruits. Recently, the Tar Heels have been hard at work in Tennessee, getting a commitment from Adarius Bowman and now focusing on Fred Sparkman, a standout linebacker from Columbia (Tenn.) Central High.

Sparkman (6-2, 220) has narrowed his list down to five schools – Alabama, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, in no particular order. This list isn't likely to change and Sparkman said there is something he likes about all five.

"I like Alabama because I like their linebacker coach and the defensive coordinator (Carl Torbush)," he said. "I like Michigan … at North Carolina I have a chance to play early and the coaches are cool. South Carolina – I like coach (Lou) Holtz. I guess Florida because I went to camp there and liked the scenery."

While that might not seem all that encouraging for the Tar Heels, if Sparkman had to choose today, he knows where he would go.

"It would probably be North Carolina right now because they are recruiting me the hardest," said the talented linebacker and running back.

Sparkman explained that the main reason for UNC being in the lead is because of the way Carolina assistant coach Jim Webster has recruited him.

"Coach Webster – he is cool. We talk about everything – girlfriends, life in general – everything. They (UNC coaches) call just to talk about everything, I have a good relationship with Coach Webster. I think I can play there."

However, a decision isn't likely until near signing day according to Sparkman and Columbia head coach Vance Belew.

Belew expects Sparkman to take all his visits before deciding.

"Which visits he will take isn't completely nailed down," Belew said. "He has set a date with Michigan and will visit Alabama – I expect him to visit UNC also."

Belew said Sparkman is definitely a playmaker.

"I think he has basically all the tools – good size, quickness, tackles really well, and he is a tremendous competitor. He makes a lot of big plays for us."

Sparkman said his team needs to win its next two games to reach the high school playoffs and added that he is having a great season.

He plans to make his first trip to Chapel Hill on Dec. 6 and will visit Michigan the following weekend. Sparkman was supposed to attend UNC football camp this summer but instead camped at Florida.

According to Sparkman, who had 158 tackles and six sacks as a junior, he is a middle linebacker now, but could move to outside linebacker in college.

But if given a choice between playing running back or linebacker, Sparkman knows he would rather not have the ball.

"I like to hit people more," he said. "I mean running the ball is okay, but for me, it's more about people coming at me."

Distance will not be a factor for Sparkman, who maintains a 3.6 GPA, scored a 20 on the ACT – and hates to lose.

"I am an intense player. I try to get the best out of myself and my teammates," he said. "I never want to lose – of course no one wants to – I give it all I have and leave it all on the field."

And if the Tar Heels can maintain their current lead until signing day, that field will be Kenan Stadium next year.

Junior Year Stats:
Tackles – 158
Game high - 21 tackles
Tackles for loss - 29
Sacks – 6
4.6 40-yd. dash

Note: The team has not yet maxed out in the major three lifts, so Sparkman did not know what his max in each lift currently is.

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