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Heel Tough Blog: Early Signing Day Recap

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25 of the Tar Heels 26 commits signed their letter of intent on Wednesday as the three day early signing period opened up. After the struggles of the previous staff at keeping players in state, this staff was able to turn the focus back on the home state while also building upon the established pipelines from Fedora’s tenure to put together a very strong 2020 early signing class. Here is a breakdown of all 25 prospects that signed to play their college football in Chapel Hill.

Class Rankings

247sports- Overall: No. 19 | ACC: No. 3

Rivals- Overall: No. 17 | ACC: No. 3

ESPN- Overall: No. 17 | ACC: No. 2

4WDE Desmond Evans- Lee County (Sanford, NC)

247Sports- No. 81 overall, No. 5 WDE

Rivals- No. 47 overall, No. 2 WDE

ESPN- No. 2 overall, No. 1 DE

Composite- No. 32 overall, No. 2 WDE

Evans is a guy who’s ratings have fluctuated a little bit as of late, but there is a reason why he still remains a borderline 5prospects. He is the best pure pass rusher the Tar Heels have landed in a while and his physical, bull-rushing style will be an attractive one for a team that has struggled to get consistent pressure on the quarterback since the early Larry Fedora days. Don’t be shocked if Evans comes in and makes an immediate impact at the RUSH end position.

4SDE Myles Murphy- Dudley (Charlotte, NC)

247Sports- No. 110 overall, No. 6 SDE

Rivals- No. 16 SDE

ESPN- No. 69 overall, No. 8 DE

Composite- No. 122 overall, No. 6 SDE

Murphy fits the 4i-technique about as perfectly as anyone in the class. He has the size and playing style to succeed in Bateman’s defense immediately. He has the strength to shed linemen, but doesn’t show it as often as he should. Still, his finesse moves and quickness off the snap will make him a successful pure pass rusher at some point in his career. With him not early enrolling, it may take him some time to make an impact, but there is a lot of talent here.

4DT Kedrick Bingley-Jones- Providence Day (Charlotte, NC)*

247Sports- No. 177 overall, No. 14 DT

Rivals- No. 98 overall, No. 5 SDE

ESPN- No. 245 overall, No. 25 DE

Composite- No. 142 overall, No. 13 DT

While Evans is extremely athletic for his size, but Bingley-Jones might be even more athletic. He projects to fit at one of the 4i-tech spots and while he might not be as physical as the other two linemen above, he has the ability to beat slower tackles off the edge and will provide the most help of the three in run defense. With Bingley-Jones scheduled to enroll early, don’t be shocked if this is a name we see on the two-deep early next year.

4 S Ja’Qurious Conley- Northside-Jacksonville (Jacksonville, NC)

247Sports- No. 112 overall, No. 10 S

Rivals- No. 196 overall, No. 16 S

ESPN- No. 250 overall, No. 13 S

Composite- No. 160 overall, No. 13 S

Conley is sailing up the player rankings as he continues to impress evaluators, something he’s doing right now down in Spartanburg at Shrine Bowl practice. His ability to cover a lot of space and when he flies around, he makes people pay. Although he played in the box a lot during his prep career, he looks the part of the Tar Heels next standout at safety. Amongst a load secondary the Tar Heels will have in 2020, it won’t be easy to step in and make an immediate impact, though. There is also a lot of special teams value for Conley that will make him hard to keep of the field in 2020.

4WR Josh Downs- North Gwinnett (Suwanee, GA)*

247Sports- No. 423 overall, No. 77 WR

Rivals- No. 105 overall, No. 21 WR

ESPN- No. 278 overall, No. 46 WR

Composite- No. 210 overall, No. 36 WR

Downs is all over the board, but there is no denying that there is talent here. You can never have a shortage of reliable options in the slot and with Dazz Newsome and Rontavius Groves leaving after 2020, Downs is a big part of this class. He is already a polished route runner and his speed makes him a weapon before and after the catch. Drops have been an issue at times for the current slot receivers on the team, but that doesn’t seem to be much of a concern for Downs. He’ll enroll early, giving him a chance to get ahead of the curve and become a part of the rotation.

4S Cameron Roseman-Sinclair- Myers Park (Charlotte, NC)*

247Sports- No. 304 overall, No. 23 S

Rivals- No. 102 overall, No. 7 S

ESPN- No. 25 S

Composite- No. 237 overall, No. 23 S

The Tar Heels always like to have that one in-the-box safety that can help in run defense and that is exactly what Roseman-Sinclair brings to the table. By the end of prep career, Roseman-Sinclair had slid into a hybrid linebacker-safety role and thrive with his ability to tackle in the open field, while also being better in coverage than many gave him credit for. Bateman’s defenses at Army thrived with guys like this in place and with Roseman-Sinclair enrolling early, he will make a push to fill that role for the Tar Heels as soon as possible.

4DUAL Jacolby Criswell- Morrilton (Morrilton, AR)*

247Sports- No. 309 overall, No. 10 DUAL

Rivals- No. 14 DUAL

ESPN- No. 243 overall, No. 11 QB-DT

Composite- No. 269 overall, No. 11 DUAL

There was some concern at the end, but the Tar Heels held on to a quarterback that Phil Longo has been targeting for his offense since his days at Ole Miss. He reminds many of former Mack Brown-quarterback Vince Young with his strong arm and mobility that allows him to keep plays alive when a play is needed. The Tar Heels were in need of depth at the quarterback position, but Criswell is going to challenge for the chance to backup Sam Howell, especially since he will enroll early.

3WR Ray Rose- South Point (Belmont, NC)

247Sports- No. 401 overall, No. 73 WR

Rivals- No. 11 ATH

ESPN- No. 119 WR

Composite- No. 404 overall, No. 66 WR

Rose is one of the rawest prospects in this class, considering he played in offense that ran the triple option as their base offense. There is a reason Rose is in this class, though. He has the speed necessary to be a good deep threat for the Tar Heel offense and his time as a ball carrier the past two seasons should help him to make plays in the open field. He is recovering from a shoulder injury that cost him a bulk of the second half of his senior season and there is some growth that is needed, but Rose has some nice upside.

3TE John Copenhaver- Roswell (Roswell, GA)*

247Sports- No. 428 overall, No. 17 TE

Rivals- No. 20 TE

ESPN- No. 6 TE-H

Composite- No. 438 overall, No. 16 TE

The Tar Heels’ top tight end commit in this class, Copenhaver will have a chance to make an early impact with three senior leaving when the season concludes. The team was lacking a major pass catching threat at the tight end position and he fits that role perfectly, spending most of his snaps as a slot tight end at the prep level. He has some athleticism that will also allow him to cause issues in the open field. With him early enrolling, Copenhaver will have a huge opportunity to make an impact for the Tar Heels next year.

3DT Clyde Pinder Jr.- Armwood (Seffner, FL)

247Sports- No. 472 overall, No. 39 DT

Rivals- No. 31 DT

ESPN- No. 49 DT

Composite- No. 439 overall, No. 41 DT

Maybe the most important commit in this 2020 class, the Tar Heels were able to keep their only true nose tackle as part of this class. With the lack of depth at nose tackle, Pinder Jr. will have a great opportunity to come in and contribute right away. He fits the defensive tackle position about as well as any prospect in this 2020 cycle does, as he eats up space inside to slow down the run, but also has the bull-in-a-chinashop mentality that you need to be a successful pass rusher out of the 1-tech defensive tackle spot, something his shown he is capable of. Pinder Jr. has the capability to push for a starting job at some point in the next year for the Tar Heels.

3ILB Ethan West- Cosby (Midlothian, VA)*

247Sports- No. 736 overall, No. 29 ILB

Rivals- No. 41 ILB


Composite- No. 490 overall, No. 22 ILB

One of the longest committed prospects in this class, Ethan West fills a need for the Tar Heels at linebacker, a spot that doesn’t have a ton of depth. His sideline-to-sideline ability is as good as any player in this class for the Tar Heels and he has as good of coverage skills as you could hope for in middle linebacker having played both nickel and corner earlier in his high school career. Add in his strong open field tackling ability and there is a reason to think that he will have a chance to make an early impact.

3OT Trey Zimmerman- Roswell (Roswell, GA)*

247Sports- No. 958 overall, No. 80 OT

Rivals- No. 42 OT

ESPN- No. 58 OT

Composite- No. 599 overall, No. 48 OT

Zimmerman is the highest rated offensive tackle in a class that will hope to produce some one who can come in and compete for snaps at a tackle spot that will be left vacant with Charlie Heck’s graduation. Zimmerman has the size that is necessary to compete almost immediately at the college level and that’s encouraging, but he isn’t a finished product just yet, especially as a pass protector. With him scheduled to enroll early, though, there is a chance that he can make the strides necessary to make an impact early on in his career.

3TE Kendall Karr- Stuart Cramer (Cramerton, NC)*

247Sports- No. 684 overall, No. 30 TE

Rivals- No. 33 TE

ESPN- No. 11 TE-Y

Composite- No. 678 overall, No. 28 TE

As we mentioned above with Copenhaver, all of the tight ends in the class will have a chance to compete for playing time this season with how much is leaving the position group. Karr will be coming off an ACL injury that cost him his senior season, so it might be a little while before he can contribute, but he fits what the Tar Heels need from at least one of the tight ends as a pure pass catching tight end.

3OT Cayden Baker- Fort Myers (Fort Myers, FL)

247Sports- No. 453 overall, No. 36 OT

Rivals- No. N/A OT

ESPN- No. 46 OT

Composite- No. 712 overall, No. 53 OT

The Tar Heels are in need of athletic tackles that can pass protect and that is exactly what Baker brings. His won’t get beat often around the edge and a weapon on pull blocks and screen plays because his athleticism allows to get out in space and make things happen. He will definitely need to add weight when he gets on campus, but there is a lot of potential for this young man.

3OG Jonathan Adorno- Rolesville (Rolesville, NC)*

247Sports- No. 717 overall, No. 39 OG

Rivals- No. 80 OT

ESPN- No. 52 OG

Composite- No. 776 overall, No. 49 OG

Adorno is that versatile offensive lineman that you love to have in every class. He will have no trouble pulling, whether from a guard or tackle spot and combine that with enough upper body strength to continually rack up knockdowns and there is a reason to be excited. Adorno will need to add weight and there might be a bit of a learning curve, but he does one thing well that this offensive line needs desperately and that is pass protect. With him early enrolling, don’t count him out to land somewhere on the two-deep next season.

3WR Tylee Craft- Sumter (Sumter, SC)*

247Sports- No. 443 overall, No. 80 WR

Rivals- No. N/A WR

ESPN- No. 60 WR

Composite- No. 830 overall, No. 126 WR

Craft is definitely one of the more raw prospects in this class for the Tar Heels, as he, like Ray Rose who we talked about above, played in an offense that did throw the ball a lot at the prep level. The good news is, both guys are at the Shrine Bowl in Spartanburg and will have a chance to showcase what they’ve got. Craft reminds me a lot of what we have seen Dyami Brown become, a guy who has the perfect amount of speed and shiftiness to take the top off of defense and also create problems in the open field after the catch. He has great size on him, too, something that it will be interesting to see if can take advantage of when he arrives. It will likely take some time before he’ll make an impact, but he has the tools to do damage in this Tar Heel offense.

3RB D.J. Jones- Pine Forest (Fayetteville, NC)*

247Sports- No. 562 overall, No. 40 RB

Rivals- No. N/A RB

ESPN- No. 43 RB

Composite- No. 831 overall, No. 57 RB

Jones’ running is similar to that of current Tar Heel running back Michael Carter’s and should be a good fit for this Tar Heel backfield. His acceleration and ability to hit the hole quick and hard is what makes him such an intriguing option at running back. He does have the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, something the other two running back scheduled to eventually be in this class don’t have a lot of experience doing. He might not be the biggest back in the world, but he does run with a little bit of an edge to him. In a crowded backfield, it will be hard to see Jones finding reps early, but he could be a solid part of the rotation once Javonte Williams and Michael Carter are gone.

3TE Jefferson Boaz- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)

247Sports- No. 789 overall, No. 32 TE

Rivals- No. N/A TE

ESPN- No. 91 ATH

Composite- No. 894 overall, No. 40 TE

While most of the recruiting site list Boaz as a tight end, it is far from a guarantee that that will be the position that he will play in college. There are many that believe he will at least get a look at quarterback, a position where he set multiple NCHSAA state record, including the total touchdown record with his 82 total touchdowns. He has a strong enough arm and good enough touch on the football to succeed, but unless Jace Ruder enters the transfer portal, his best chance to play won’t be at quarterback. Boaz went through tight end and linebacker drills back in the summer at Mack Brown’s prospect camp and showed a lot of positive things. Figuring out where to use this young man will be difficult, but where they put him, he has a lot of potential.

3SDE A.J. Beatty- Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, PA)

247Sports- No. 1322 overall, No. 66 SDE

Rivals- No. 27 SDE

ESPN- No. 132 DE

Composite- No. 917 overall, No. 48 SDE

Beatty might be the lowest rated of the defensive linemen in this class, but he may also be one of the more flexible options the Tar Heels have in this class. He thrived in out of both the two-point and three-point stance in high school as a straight line pass-rusher. The Tar Heels will want to see him develop into someone that also help in run defense, but he looks the part of a player who could be a part of the pass rushing in a couple of years.

3ATH Cedric Gray- Ardrey Kell (Charlotte, NC)*

247Sports- No. 559 overall, No. 35 ATH

Rivals- No. N/A ATH

ESPN- No. 159 WR

Composite- No. 925 overall, No. 56 ATH

This is another player who the Tar Heel can use at a couple of different positions depending on where they need depth. While he has said the staff likes him at the hybrid linebacker/safety spot, he has the playmaking ability and catch radius to succeed at wide receiver if the team needs him there at any point. The hybrid spot seems to be where he’ll play, especially a strong senior year out of the position at the prep level. He will enroll early and with that spot still trying to be established in the defense, if he shines in spring and fall camps, he might have a chance to shine.

3WR Stephen Gosnell- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)

247Sports- No. 861 overall, No. 139 WR

Rivals- No. N/A WR

ESPN- No. 220 WR

Composite- No. 942 overall, No. 141 WR

Gosnell had a huge senior season as a do-it-all player for East Surry this season, but in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels wonder need him to do as much, allowing him build on some of the little things. There might not be anybody in this class with better ability after the catch than Gosnell, who every time he touched the ball, had a chance to take it to the house. He still has some work to do prior to the catch, but he is dynamic enough to make a difference when he gets the chance, which early on, will likely be on special teams.

3RB Elijah Green- Blessed Trinity Catholic (Roswell, GA)

247Sports- No. 1695 overall, No. 109 RB

Rivals- No. N/A APB

ESPN- No. 46 RB

Composite- No. 988 overall, No. 64 RB

He might be further down on some draft boards, but there is a lot to like about his game. The backfield for the Tar Heels a true speed back and Green will be able to provide that the minute he steps in. He hits the hole quickly, but doesn’t lose steam in the open field, something the Tar Heels lacked most of the season. The backfield is loaded, so it’s far from a guarantee, but Green fills the only need that the Tar Heels have.

3OG Malik McGowan-Charlotte Catholic (Charlotte, NC)

247Sports- No. 1669 overall, No. 101 OG

Rivals- No. N/A OG

ESPN- No. 47 OG

Composite- No. 1350 overall, No. 83 OG

McGowan is one of the lower rated players in this class, but it’s not really clear as to why. McGowan has the size to slide right in a guard and his skill set isn’t really far behind. He is the definition of a road grader and should have no problem paving the way for the running game in the future. While he might not be a polished pass protector, he can hold his own, something he did playing out of place at the prep level. The fact that he won’t enroll until the summer means he likely won’t see a major role in 2020, but this is a name that we could look back at a few years down the line and ask how he was rated this low.

3SDE Kaimon Rucker- Hart County (Hartwell, GA)

247Sports- No. 1703 overall, No. 91 SDE

Rivals- No. N/A WDE

ESPN- No. 142 DE

Composite- No. 1508 overall, No. 78 SDE

Rucker is another prospect that will likely play a special teams role next season, but will have to wait to major reps on the defensive side of the football. He will be rehabbing from an injury that cost him most of his late season before he returned for the final game and will have to add weight regardless of where he plays. There is still some things to be excited about for a guy that will likely play the RUSH position in Bateman’s defense. His athleticism and open field will be helpful in run defense and he has the speed to beat tackles off the edge, it’ll just be about make it consistent. The is a player that has a high ceiling, though, and could develop into a nice asset as his career progresses.

3CB Jayden Chalmers- Lee County (Sanford, NC)

247Sports- No. 1429 overall, No. 122 CB

Rivals- No. N/A CB

ESPN- No. 106 CB

Composite- No. 1650 overall, No. 144 CB

Many people were of the belief that Chalmers was offered as extra insensitive for Des Evans to sign when Chalmers committed back in the summer, but when you throw on the tape, you can see why this staff offered him. Chalmers can make plays on the ball and he has the speed to stay with quicker receiver in coverage. Chalmers will have some work to do as a tackler and in man coverage situations, but he is a more than capable zone corner. Finding playing time at corner next year won’t be easy, which is why he’ll probably have to cut his teeth on special teams, an area where he shined at the prep level.

*Early Enrollees

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