Yesterday, the Tar Heels landed their first commitment in over nine months, as 2023 3✮ OT Nolan McConnell, new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. first offer, joined the class. This kicks off what is setting up to be a huge two months on the recruiting trail when it comes to this Tar Heels 2023 class. Amongst those that could make their decisions before the end of June are a sizable group of major targets that have narrowed down their school lists in the past two and a half weeks. Here is a deeper look at those prospects that have narrowed down their decisions here recently.
4✮ EDGE Desmond Umeozulu- Charles Herbert Flowers (Upper Marlboro, MD)
Teams Remaining: North Carolina, Clemson, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, South Carolina and Texas
Umeozulu was one of the first major targets to narrow down his decision back on April 16th, cutting his list to a final nine. According to On3’s Recruiting Prediction machine, the Tar Heels are seen to be in the best spot with Umeozulu at this team, but none of the other major recruiting sites seem to be leaning that way right now. The Tar Heels have, however, received three visits from him since last summer, the most reported visits that he has taken to a specific school in his recruitment. At the least, the Tar Heels are a major factor here in this recruitment and will push in-state Maryland to land his commitment.
4✮ IOL Markee Anderson- Dorman (Roebuck, SC)
Teams Remaining: North Carolina, Clemson, LSU and South Carolina
Anderson cut his list to four this past Saturday, something that probably indicates he is closing in on a commitment. The Tar Heels made the cut and appear to be a part of a three horse race with South Carolina and Clemson for his services. So far, Anderson has taken three or more visits to each of the three and they will get at least one more this summer. All four of his remaining suitors will host the top 200 prospect in the month of June for official visits with the Tar Heels getting their crack on the weekend of June 10th. According to the On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine, the Gamecocks are the heavy favorite and they do hold four of the five predictions from the major recruiting sites, but the Tar Heels and Tigers will get one last shot to change his mind. His high school teammate, 3✮ IOL D.J. Geth, a strong Tar Heel lean after his recent offer, could be a major card in the team’s chances to land Anderson’s commitment.
4✮ DL Joel Starlings- Benedictine (Richmond, VA)
Teams Remaining: North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia
Starlings was a prior commit to Michigan and while many of the site still have a lean towards the Wolverines, they are no longer in the equation. The Tar Heels have been in the thick of this recruitment since his decommitment from Michigan and they have hosted him for the most visits of any of the finalists. The Tar Heels will get the first crack at Starlings this summer, as they are scheduled to host him for an official visit on May 20th, with West Virginia following close behind with an official of their own on June 3rd. He will also take an unofficial visit to Oklahoma later in that week on June 9th before waiting till the fall to take officials to South Carolina (October 22nd) and Virginia (November 19th). Starlings pretty much confirmed that his decision will not come until after his senior season, meaning there is still time for the Tar Heels to land this commitment. South Carolina is the school that it feels like he has the closest ties to right now, so the official visit will be an important one for Mack Brown and company if they want to come away with this commitment.
4✮ DL Jamaal Jarrett- Grimsley (Greensboro, NC)
Teams Remaining: North Carolina, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M
This is the only in-state prospect on this list, but it is a big one. As expected, the Tar Heels were a part of the top five that quickly expanded to six shortly after with the addition of Texas A&M to the equation. It’s no secret that right now Georgia is the leader in this recruitment, but the Tar Heels aren’t out of this by any stretch with the proximity to home for him and his connection with current Tar Heel defensive tackle Travis Shaw. The Tar Heels will have the first crack with the official visits that Jarrett will take this summer, as he will be on campus on May 20th before heading to Auburn (June 3rd) and Georgia (June 10th) for officials as well. The other two finalist from his April 21st list do not yet have visits scheduled for the summer. The biggest question mark is just how serious of a factor Texas A&M will be in this recruitment moving forward.
4✮ EDGE Derion Gullette- Marlin (Marlin, TX)
Teams Remaining: North Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Texas A&M and USC
The Tar Heels made Gullette’s top twelve, but this is one that the Tar Heels don’t seem to have much of a chance in. It starts with the fact that he has never visited Chapel Hill and as of right now it doesn’t look like he will. Add in the fact that he has visited Texas A&M a whopping nine times already and seems to also be closely tied to Texas and Alabama and you can see why this one isn’t really worth going more in-depth on.
3✮ CB Kaleb Cost- Sandy Creek (Tyrone, GA)
Teams Remaining: North Carolina, Central Florida, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and Pittsburgh
Cost is the player whose situation might be the cloudiest of anyone on this list, but the Tar Heels do seem to be in the hunt for the dual sport athlete. He took his first visit to Chapel Hill in late March following his visit and raved about the visit to Inside Carolina. UCF is seen as the favorite according to the On3 Sports, but Georgia Tech can’t be counted out with their close proximity and Pittsburgh also seems to like the spot that they are in. Right now, there are no visits scheduled for this summer, so it is hard to get a gauge on where exactly his recruitment is at right now.
3✮ CB Shelton Lewis- Stockbridge (Stockbridge, GA)
Teams Remaining: North Carolina, Arkansas, Boston College, Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt
Lewis cut his list down to five on the first of this month after his recruitment really took off during the winter months. With as late as his recruitment took off, he hasn’t been able to visit each of his final five, but he did take a visit to Chapel Hill back in March prior to him receiving an offer from Mack Brown. Pittsburgh is seen as the favorite right now according to the On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine and that makes sense considering that they are the team that was in this from the beginning. However, the Tar Heels are the team that looks to be the biggest threat and are the only other team besides Pat Narduzzi’s squad to have an official visit scheduled for this summer (May 20th).
3✮ IOL Robert Grigsby- North Cobb (Kennesaw, GA)
Teams Remaining: North Carolina, Central Florida, Mississippi State, NC State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt
Grigsby’s recruitment is one that has quietly become one of the more heated on the recruiting trail heading into the summer. He narrowed his list down to six back on April 27th, but this recruitment appears to be a dead heat right now between the Tar Heels, rival NC State and Vanderbilt. Grigsby will take a visit to each of the three schools in consecutive weekends starting with a visit to Raleigh on June 10th. The Tar Heels will get the final official visit on June 24th. That is huge in a battle that is this close.
3✮ DL Rodney Lora- Woodberry Forest (Woodberry Forest, VA)
Teams Remaining: North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan, Rutgers, Virginia and Virginia Tech
Lora is a name that has flown under the radar here as a recent offer in large part because of the fact that his recruitment began back in February, but he is one of the guys who is closing in on what looks like a summer decision. In-state Virginia and Virginia Tech appear to be in the best shape for him right now, but to this point, neither one has an official visit scheduled ahead of what Lora labeled as the first week in July for his decision. As of right now, only three of the final six schools have official visits set starting with Rutgers on June 10th, following that with a trip to Ann Arbor on June 17th and concluding in Chapel Hill on June 24th. The Tar Heels have to like their standing in this one right now as it feels like they have a fighting chance, but it will be hard to fight off those in-state teams if they are able to get themselves official visits.