The Tar Heels have cooled down just a little bit on the recruiting trail after landing three of their most sought after recruits just a week ago. While there are more silent commits that are said to be popping here in the near future. However, one that many expected to be a part of this class just a week ago will be heading elsewhere to play his college football.
2021 4✮ RB Evan Pryor announced his commitment to Ohio State on Monday, a decision that was nearly unthought of a week ago with the momentum the Tar Heels were building. The belief is that this a decision that is heavily influenced by his family, who has fallen in love with the Buckeyes throughout the recruiting process. With his commitment to Ohio State, the Tar Heels miss out on one of the top in position players in the 2021 class and leaves the Tar Heels still searching for a running back that will have to replace Michael Carter and quite possibly Javonte Williams. Losing Pryor is definitely a blow, but let’s look at the other targets the Heels can focus on in the 2021 running back class to find that next piece in the backfield.
5✮ RB TreVeyon Henderson- Hopewell (Hopewell, VA)
Arguably the most sought after running back in the 2021 class, Henderson has developed a strong relationship with the Tar Heels. The No. 2 running back in the 2021 class finished with 3,193 all-purpose yards a year ago and 53 total touchdowns, helping to lead the Hopewell Blue Devils to the Class 3 state title. All of that production came in Henderson’s first full season as a running back, as well, after spending his first two seasons primarily on the defensive side of the football. Henderson’s top end speed and versatility out of the backfield make him an extremely desirable target in this class and one that would give the Tar Heels a running back that could immediately make a major impact.
5✮ APB Will Shipley- Weddington (Weddington, NC)
Once thought of as a no chance situation, the Tar Heels reportedly have made progress with and are still a contender for the No. 1 all-purpose back in the class. Shipley, a guy who has drawn multiple comparisons to current Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, has put together two massive seasons in each of the past two years, combined for 4,541 yards of total offense and 63 touchdowns. While it is definitely still a major longshot that the Tar Heels will land his commitment, his fit in the Phil Longo’s offense would be perfect, especially with the playmaking ability in the passing game that he will bring to the table, along with his perfectly balanced running style.
4✮ ATH DeAndre Boykins- Central Cabarrus (Concord, NC)
Boykins will have the option of playing either side of the ball when he goes to the college level, one of those being the running back position. Boykins, the No. 8 athlete in the 2021 class, ran for 603 yards and nine touchdowns and could have an even bigger season in 2020. Boykins has a low center of gravity and runs with the same physical edge that he plays with on the defensive side of the football. He combines that with solid speed and a good ability to find open space with the ball in his hand, something that makes him tough to bring down even when you have him surrounded. Look for him to be a major target of the Tar Heels the rest of the way, especially after missing on Pryor.
4✮ RB Kamarro Edmonds- Havelock (Havelock, NC)
Of the guys that we have talked about so far, Edmonds might be the player with the closest ties to the Tar Heel staff as of right now. After splitting time between offense and defense in his first two prep seasons, Edmonds transitioned to the offensive side of the nearly exclusively, running for 1,402 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2019. Edmonds’ top end speed and ability to make people miss in the open field make him a problem for defenses, something that should not be an issue to carry over in his transition to the college level.
3✮ RB Derek Coombs- Holly Springs (Holly Springs, NC)
Coombs might not be talked about quite as much as the other three in terms of attention, but he is still a very solid in-state running back. Over the past two seasons, Coombs, the No. 83 running back in the 2021 class, ran for 2063 yards and 27 touchdowns, averaging 7.2 yards per carry. While is a limited threat catching the football out of the backfield, his speed makes him trouble if he can get in open space. The level of competition at the prep level for Coombs will be a concern and he’ll likely be an upside player more than anything, but he could still help this Tar Heel team in the backfield.