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Heel Tough Blog: 2024 Targets Narrowing Down and Closing in on Decisions

The 2024 recruiting trail is starting to heat up with the dead period now a few weeks behind us and some of the Tar Heels' big-name targets are already taking major steps in their recruitments. From top school lists to a decision, there have been plenty of storylines that have surfaced in the last few weeks. Here is a look at the latest news in the 2024 cycle.

2024 4ATH Jonathan Paylor

@jonathan_paylor- Twitter

Paylor is one of the most important targets in the 2024 class and the Tar Heels have some work to do here. Back on March 1st, he announced his top eight, which involved Carolina, Alabama, Clemson, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, NC State and South Carolina. The Gamecocks appear to be in the driver’s seat for now, but Paylor is still taking visits, including one the first weekend of March to Chapel Hill. As of right now, it doesn’t appear that the Tar Heels have an official visit set in stone with him like Clemson and South Carolina do, so that is the next step for this staff to close the gap. The longer this recruitment goes, the better chances Carolina will have, especially with the close proximity, but this is starting to feel like a bit of a longshot at this point.

2024 4WR Braylon Staley

FourKids Photography

The Tar Heels have a ton of in-state targets at wide receiver in this class, but Staley is one of the most noteworthy offensive targets outside the state. On Saturday, he announced his final ten schools, with Carolina joining Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Miami, Penn State and Tennessee as those left battling for his services. While the Tar Heels still have a chance here, he has not been to campus since his in-season visit to the NC State game and since then, the heavy hitters have entered the race. If the staff is wanting to land him, they need to get him on campus soon to try and counter what others have been doing. However, with the other wide receivers that the Tar Heels are in good standing with in the class, you have to wonder how hard they will push.

2024 4DL Amaris Williams

@AmarisWilliam13- Twitter

Williams has slowly grown into one of the higher-rated in-state targets for the Tar Heels this cycle and he now has a timeline for his decision. Last Sunday, he announced that he will commit on August 16th, the Wednesday before the first game of his senior season. The Tar Heels are one of the three teams that appear to have separated themselves for now, but they will have a battle on their hands with NC State and Tennessee. The Wolfpack seem like the slight favorite right now after getting him on campus immediately after the conclusion of the dead period, but it seems like Williams is wanting to take his time and weigh all of his options. Getting him back on campus this spring and locking up one of his official visits in the summer will be important if the staff actually wants to come away with his commitment.

2024 3QB Daniel Kaelin

Mac Johnson Media

Kaelin was a part of the loaded group of targets that visited campus during the first weekend of the month, but it wasn’t enough to keep him from committing elsewhere. Last Monday, he announced his commitment to Missouri, something he revealed to the team’s staff on Saturday during his visit there. This shouldn’t come as much of a shock that he is heading elsewhere, as it seems Kaelin was near the bottom of the priority list at the Tar Heels at the position. The focus for the Tar Heel staff seems to be on in-state 5✮ Jadyn Davis and Georgia 4✮ Jake Merklinger with a watchful eye on fellow Georgia 4✮ KJ Jackson.

2024 3IOL Gibson Pyle

@gibson_pyle- Instagram

Pyle is one of a handful of out-of-state targets that the Tar Heels are looking at along the offensive line and they got some good news from him last weekend. They are one of the final ten for him along with Arizona State, Boston College, California, Duke, Kansas State, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Stanford and Vanderbilt. The bad news for the Tar Heels is that his visit to Lincoln a couple of weeks ago has them in a significant hole behind the Cornhuskers who are now the heavy favorites. 3✮ Desmond Jackson’s commitment to the class means the interior of the offensive line isn’t a dire need, but they will likely have to turn elsewhere if they want to find another one in this cycle.

2024 3S Zahir Rainer

Lily Jennette Images

Rainer is another player who has narrowed his schools down and has the Tar Heels amongst those still in contention. Duke, Minnesota, Stanford, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest are the others remaining in the race for him after the release of his top seven back on March 10th. He is a Virginia legacy, but the Tar Heels and Hokies have been the ones that have seemed to position themselves the best so far. He is scheduled to visit Virginia Tech again today and will be in Chapel Hill on April 1st. That visit will be an important one and could be what ultimately determines where he ends up.


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