|2008 Scholarship Roster|
UNC will graduate two linebackers following the 2008 season – both projected
starters – and two more the following season. Additionally, Wesley Flagg was dismissed during the offseason.
Thus, UNC is looking to sign at least three linebackers with the 2009 class.
A wild card is Albert Craddock, who signed with UNC in February 2007. While he's considered a verbal commitment, his possible future at UNC depends on how his athletic and academic season goes at East Mississippi CC.
Outside of Craddock, UNC has collected verbal commitments from Justin Dixon and Shane Mularkey.
In March '06, Craddock verbally committed to UNC after receiving a scholarship offer during a junior day. He also claimed offers from Auburn, NC State, Texas, and Virginia Tech at the time.
After failing to qualify, Craddock spent last fall at Pearl River CC, but didn't play football. He transferred to East Mississippi CC, following his defensive coordinator, who had accepted the head coach job.
If everything goes as planned, Craddock will enroll at UNC this coming January with three years of eligibility remaining, but no red-shirt year available.
It will be interesting to see what type of player Craddock will be this fall. He was prohibited from working out with the Pearl River football team and thus had to work out on his own. Coming out of high school, he possessed a frame that could support a lot of weight and had great speed.
Coming out of High Point (N.C.) Southwest Guilford High School, Scout.com ranked Craddock as the No. 26 linebacker in the
nation and gave him a three-star rating.
A week after being extended a UNC offer, Dixon attended the Tar Heels' Junior Day this past February and was among the wave of verbal commitments UNC received that day.
On the football field, Dixon is just a beast. He is a freakish combination of speed and strength. He should thrive as a run stopping middle linebacker on the collegiate level.
Dixon catapulted up the rankings with his performance at Scout.com's Combine, where he ran a 4.50 40-yard dash and dominated in one-on-one drills. He is now a four-star prospect and Scout.com ranks him as the No. 4 strongside linebacker in the nation.
Dixon starts both ways for Smithfield-Selma -- fullback and middle linebacker. He ended his junior season with 165 tackles and an interception on defense, and 1,589 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns on offense.
Sitting out his entire junior season with an injury, coupled with two high school transfers, kept Mularkey hidden from the recruiting media.
Steve Hagen originally discovered Mularkey during a recruiting visit to GAC during the Evaluation Period. After impressing coaches at one session of UNC's One-Day Camp, Mularkey received a scholarship offer. A week later he accepted.
Mularkey's biggest asset is his football IQ, as the son of an NFL coach. He very athletic and plays with a lot of passion.
Mularkey is the son of Mike Mularkey, who is the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. The elder Mularkey was the head coach of the Buffalo Bills during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
Targets With Offers
6'1" 228 lbs. 4.48 Matthews (N.C.) Butler High School
Given the linebacker pledges already in the fold, Bell is the main target right now -- John Blake took over his recruitment several months back. He doesn't claim to have a solid list of favorites, but South Carolina and Virginia Tech reportedly stand out from the rest. The UNC staff has been unsuccessful in getting him on campus -- though he made very few visits to schools this offseason. He doesn't plan on deciding until after his football season.
6'3" 220 lbs. 4.60 Manahawkin (N.J.) Southern Regional HS
Carson will likely play his college ball in the northeast and Penn State and Rutgers are his current co-leaders. Carson, who holds about 20 offers, isn't sure when he'll actually commit. UNC offered following his junior season, but hasn't pursued him as hard as others. Carson's grandfather played for UNC. He visited Chapel Hill last summer.
6'3" 210 lbs. 4.70 Largo (Fla.) High School
Marry has collected nearly 20 offers from schools saround the nation. He doesn't claim any favorites and plans to hold off making a commitment until after his football season. He plans to visit schools during the summer and fall.