With COVID-19 continuing to wreak havoc on the United States, the realization that the college football season will look much different this year. Recruiting is one of the biggest aspects affected by everything that is going on and many recruits are beginning to come to the realization that they will likely not be able to take typical visits to campuses this season. While this may appear to have the biggest impact on the 2021 recruiting class, and rightfully so, we are beginning to see some accelerations in the timelines for some major 2022 targets. Let’s take a look at some of the recent news surrounding some of the Tar Heels top 2022 targets.
5✮ DT Travis Shaw- Grimsley (Greensboro, NC)
The top player in the state of North Carolina and the No. 6 overall player in the 2022 Composite player rankings announced on Sunday that he was preparing to release a top schools list in the near future. The Tar Heels have established a strong relationship out of the gate with the extremely talented nose tackle and the expectation is they are comfortable locks to make Shaw’s top twelve. The fact that Tar Heels have landed some of the top in-state talents on the defensive line in the past two classes will help their causes, but this is once again a battle where heavy-hitter like Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia are all expected to be factors. While this will still be a tough group to navigate through, the Tar Heels have shown in the 2021 class that they are now serious contenders to land any of the top players in the state of North Carolina.
4✮ OLB Jalon Walker- Salisbury (Salisbury, NC)
The No. 2 player in the state of North Carolina and the No. 41 overall player in the 2022 Composite player rankings is also looking to narrow his list to his top eight schools on Friday. The Tar Heels jumped in the race early, but this is another player who will likely have his pick of the litter with him currently holding 24 offers from schools like Carolina, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame and more. The Tar Heels feel like a lock to make his top eight later this week, but they are not the favorites at this point in his recruitment. That distinction goes Dabo Swinney and company, but with Walker cutting his list down, expect the Tar Heel staff to be locked in on doing everything they possibly can to start making up ground now.
4✮ WR Shaleak Knotts- Monroe (Monroe, NC)
Not only are the top two players in the state announcing their top school list, but the No. 3 player according to the 2022 Composite also is set to announce something in the near future. Knotts posted on Thursday afternoon that there would be “BIG NEWS COMINGS SOON”. While there is rapid speculation as to just what this tweet could mean, there is no clear answer as to what exactly he will announce. What we do know is that the Tar Heels have gotten off to a good start in his recruitment and is one of the early favorites for him. The biggest challenger, at least early on, seems to be Penn State, but the Tar Heels do have the advantage of having hosted Knotts on campus several times over the past couple of years. Still, the Nittany Lions are thought to be in strong standing with the talented outside receiver and the thought is that they may be neck-and-neck with the Tar Heels at this point in his recruitment.
4✮ TE Benji Gosnell- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)
With the state’s top three players making it known that they would be making major announcements in the near future, the release of Gosnell’s top three flew under the radar. The top tight end in the state of North Carolina in the state of North Carolina subtly announced Carolina, Ohio State and Florida as his final three with the tweet below on Saturday. The Tar Heels not only have the in-state relationship in their favor, but also of course have his brother Stephen and former quarterback Jefferson Boaz helping them as current Tar Heel true freshmen. You definitely can’t count out the Buckeyes or Gators, the staff has to be confident with their current standing here, especially if visits continue to be limited due to COVID-19.