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Heel Tough Blog: Anthony’s Most Wanted Prospects in the 2025 Class

Last week was the conclusion of the 2024 recruiting cycle as program’s throughout the country put a bow on their classes. With everything now official, the attention fully shifts to the 2025 recruiting cycle. For the Tar Heels, they hope to get back to the type of classes they had the first three years under Mack Brown as opposed to the sub-top 25 classes they have landed in each of the last two years. A loaded in-state class and a developing pipeline in the state of Georgia certainly make it possible for them to return to that level, but it is easier said than done with the momentum of Brown’s return clearly having worn off a bit. The class is off to a good start with five commitments so far and here are the fifteen prospects that I would love to see added to the class when they sign it next December.

15. 4WR Micah Matthews- Turner Ashby (Bridgewater, VA)

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Matthews was one of the Tar Heels early wide receiver offers in the class and they have hung around in his recruitment. He would be a nice addition in the slot for Lonnie Galloway with his ability to affect the intermediate and short passing games. He would give future quarterbacks some extremely reliable hands in the slot and a playmaker who can turn short passes into big plays with his ability after the catch. The Tar Heels have some work to do here, but this is definitely a guy the Tar Heels should prioritize amongst the wide receivers they have offered.

14. 3DL Samuel Cohen- Huguenot (Richmond, VA)

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Cohen is one of the team’s most recent offers in the class, but he should become one of the team’s top priorities in this class along the defensive line. He has tremendous acceleration that allows him to close the gap quickly on quarterbacks and ball carriers once he sheds the block. He does a great job of shedding his blocks with a mixture of technical moves and physicality, something that is surprising considering he is a bit undersized. It’s still too early to tell where Carolina stacks up in this race, but I would like to see this be one of Ted Monachino’s top priorities in this cycle.

13. 3ATH Harry Dalton III- Dinwiddie County (Dinwiddie, VA)

@Harry_Dalton6- Twitter

Dalton is a very interesting prospect to judge considering he has played quarterback for his high school the last two years, but he is the best running back option in this class for the Tar Heels. He reminds me a lot of Caleb Hood coming, but his upside might be even higher at the running back position. He has the best mix of speed and power of the team’s running back targets in the class and is a very decisive runner, two things this staff values in their backs. There are some others at the position that are intriguing, but if the strategy is to take one running back in this class, it should be Dalton III.

12. 3EDGE Taeshawn Alston- Vance County (Henderson, NC)

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Alston just narrowed his list down to six and the Tar Heels were one of those to crack that group. He is the prospect that is most closely tied to the team on this list after all of the visits that he has taken to campus and the Tar Heels need to capitalize and land him to help this position of need. Alston sets himself up well with a strong release off the line of scrimmage and combines it with outstanding game speed to make him a problem for most tackles off the edge. The thing that separates him from the other edge rushers the team is targeting is how well he plays the run, an area that the team needs its edge rushers to improve in. All that combined with the fact that he is an in-state target with whom the team is in really good standing with and he becomes a crucial one for this staff to lock up.

11. 4LB Jaedon Harmon- Rome (Rome, GA)

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Harmon is another one of the team’s recent offers that the staff should be aggressively pursuing. He brings the effort every single play and it leads to him playing with a lot of physicality and laying some huge blows on the opposition. His closing speed is some of the best that I’ve seen from a linebacker in the last few cycles and while he is aggressive with the angles that he takes, he’s a tremendous tackler in space. The Tar Heels have a lot of work to do to become a serious factor here, but it should be someone the staff prioritizes moving forward.

10. 4IOL Jaylen Gilchrist- Salem (Virginia Beach, VA)

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Gilchrist is another player that the Tar Heels have a lot of work to do with, but that should be a priority at a position of need. He would bring a needed level of physicality to the class, especially in the run game where he simply overpowers opponents and piles up pancake blocks. In pass protection, there is a lot to like about his footwork and lateral movement and that physicality carries over. The Tar Heels don’t feel to be in the thick of this recruitment right now, but it is one I would like to see them turn the heat up on after fellow 4✮ IOL Justin Hasenhuetl eliminated the Tar Heels in his race on Tuesday.

9. 4DL London Merritt- IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)

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Merritt was a guy that the Tar Heels appeared to be out of the running for a couple of weeks ago, but they have made a push to get right back into it after his visit for the Duke basketball game. This is great news for the Tar Heels who are now right in the thick of the race for one of the better pass rushing defensive tackles in the class. He would give the Tar Heels a versatile piece along the defensive front that can play either tackle or kick out to the edge. Regardless of where he would play, Merrit would bring a level of physicality that the team is looking for in the trenches. This last visit put the team back in the running for him and hopefully the staff can build off of that and eventually land his commitment.

8. 4S Kainoa Winston- Gonzaga (Washington, DC)

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Winston is a guy that the staff has quietly put themselves in the running for early on and he would be a huge addition to this class. The top 100 prospect has some of the best range of any defender in this class and it shows up in every aspect of his game. His film isn’t filled with a lot of pass coverage snaps, but his aggressive mindset allows him to make plays on the football and create turnovers. He is an outstanding run defender out of his safety spot and his downhill approach allows him to make ball carriers pay when they meet him at the point of attack. Penn State is making a hard push here as well, but this should be Charlton Warren’s top priority out of state in this cycle.

7. 3CB Onis Konanbanny- Heathwood Hall (Columbia, SC)

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If Alston is the player that is most closely tied to the Tar Heels on this list, Konanbanny is a close second. He has been a frequent visitor to campus and it has allowed the staff to form a strong relationship with one of the more underrated corners in the class. Konanbanny might have the highest motor of any defensive player in this class, constantly making hustle plays where he has no business being involved in the play. It helps that he has tremendous speed and acceleration, which also shows up when he is in coverage where he does a great job of staying in the hip pocket of receivers. That ability to stay looked on his assignment is what makes him such a weapon in man coverage, something we should see more from this Tar Heel defense with Geoff Collins taking over. This is one that I would love to see the staff get wrapped up sooner rather than later to avoid others from getting involved and turning it into a race, but the most important thing is that he ends up in Chapel Hill before it’s all said and done.

6. 3ATH Jamarion Morrow- Germantown (Germantown, TN)

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Morrow is another prospect from Germantown High School that I’m hoping will follow in the footsteps of his head coach, Gene Robinson III. He is the true definition of an athlete, with the ability to play wide receiver, running back and corner all at a high level. He has outstanding speed that shows up no matter where he is playing, but his shiftiness with the ball is his hands is as good as anyone in this class and is why I would play him on the offensive side of the ball. Morrow is an underrated offensive weapon in this class and I’m hoping that the Tar Heels are the ones that can take advantage.

5. 4WR Shamarius Peterkin- Mount Tabor (Winston-Salem, NC)

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Peterkin is the top offensive skill position player in this class from the home state and the Tar Heels have already done a good job establishing themselves as a serious contender. If the staff could close the deal, it would give them a receiver on the outside that can catch almost everything thrown his way. He has an amazing catch radius that allows him to haul in just about any throw and loves climbing the ladder to pull down contested catches. Once he has the ball in his hands, his speed makes him dangerous after the catch and allows him to turn almost any play into a big one. The Tar Heels have a good amount of wide receiver offers that they have handed out in this cycle, but this needs to be their top priority at the position.

4. 3DL Trajen Odom- Panther Creek (Cary, NC)

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Odom is another in-state prospect that the team has to hold in high regard in this class. One of the biggest positions of need in this class is at defensive tackle and he is a guy that the Tar Heels have firmly established themselves as a contender for. Odom is a very impactful player in the middle, especially in the run game, something that Geoff Collins said earlier this offseason is crucial to the success of his defense. He set himself up well with a strong release of the line of scrimmage and he does a great job of shedding blocks with a healthy mix of technical and power moves. This needs to be one of the main focuses for Ted Monachino and the staff moving forward in this cycle.

3. 4S Jordan Young- Monroe (Monroe, NC)

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Young is the first in-state prospect that the Tar Heels have significant work to do to have a chance of landing. He is trending towards Clemson after a visit there a few weeks ago, but it doesn’t mean the staff shouldn’t be pushing hard to make this race again. Young is another safety on this list that loves coming up into the box to make plays in the run game and he is an outstanding tackler. He has game changing speed that shows up both in those run defense situations and in coverage. He has been a very productive receiver at the high school level, as well, and the hope is that the ability to catch the football can translate to turnovers on the defensive side. This is one that I would really like to see the Tar Heels get aggressive with over the next couple of months and at least give themselves a shot with.

2. 4EDGE Bryce Davis- Grimsley (Greensboro, NC)

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Davis is another player that the team has recently rallied in the race and positioned themselves to potentially land when it’s all said and done. His addition would be massive for this Tar Heel defensive line that needs a player as impactful as he is on the edge. His release off the line of scrimmage is one of the best that I’ve seen watching film in recent years and he has good closing speed that allows him to capitalize off of that great start he gets from the snap. He does a tremendous job of shedding blocks with his use of technical moves and it’s why he has been able to make so many plays in the opposing backfield. Davis does an outstanding job of reading plays, especially for a defensive lineman and it allows him to make plays other more aggressive edge rushers can’t. This should be the top priority for this defensive staff.

1.5OT David Sanders Jr.- Providence Day (Charlotte, NC)

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Sanders is the No. 2 overall prospect in the class, the top player in the home state and the highest-rated prospect at a major area of need for the Tar Heels. There is so much to like about his game, starting with the mean streak that it just feels like so many of the team’s recent offensive linemen have lacked. He combines that with his powerful hands and strong hand placement to be a force in the run game. He is a tremendous pass protector as well with very clean footwork and outstanding lateral movement. The other thing that really stands out is just how athletic he is which shows up when he pull blocks and gets out in space on screen plays. Clemson has a major advantage here right now, but until he officially removes them for contention or commits elsewhere, this should be the staff’s main target.


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