The Tar Heels hosted one of their biggest recruiting days of the year on Saturday and in process landed one of their biggest targets of the 2021 class.
Just minutes after the Tar Heel basketball teams win over the Miami Hurricanes in Chapel Hill that the recruits attended, 2021 4✮ ILB Power Echols took to social media to announce his commitment to university. Echols, the No. 7 inside linebacker in the country according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, committed after building a strong relationship with linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen, one that grew stronger as the 2020 cycle progressed. The Tar Heels are thrilled to have this special talent in place early in the 2021 class, especially after having to chase down Clemson, who had the early lead in his recruitment before his junior season. Now, he will be the early headliner of Mack Brown’s second full class since returning to Carolina.
Echols has had a phenomenal three year start to his career at Vance High School. This past season as a junior, Echols finished with 156 total tackles, 22.0 tackles for loss and 14.0 sacks on the way to earning defensive player of the year honors in the Charlotte area for the second straight season, according to the Charlotte Observer. In Vance’s second straight state title appearance, Echols led the team in tackles with 11 and added 2.0 tackles for loss and a sack, earning player of the game as the Cougars took home their first state championship title in school history. As a sophomore, Echols helped lead the Cougars to their first state championship appearance, racking up 160 total tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks and taking home the I-Meck Player of the Year and Charlotte Observer Defensive Player of the Year honors for his efforts.
Echols, the No. 210 overall player in the 2021 class, has some of the most impressive film I have seen since I been covering recruiting. Echols is the definition of a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, as his short area burst allows him to cover huge amounts of space in short periods of time. He is a hard-hitting player who loves to play with a physical edge, but isn’t one to miss open field tackles by looking to make the big hit. Echols is as cerebral of a middle linebacker as I have seen at the prep level, as he almost never seems to be caught out of position, something that can happen often for many linebackers who make the plays that he is able to make with their speed. While he is a little stiff hipped in coverage, as you would expect for an inside linebaker, he has the athleticism and ball skills to hold his own in coverage situations. At 6’1, 206 lbs. he will likely have to add some weight at the college level, but that is really all that is standing in the way of him being able to make a major impact the minute he gets to campus.
With Echols commitment, the Tar Heels have a huge piece that will be looked to in 2021 when they will have to replace Chazz Surratt at inside linebacker. His commitment moves the Tar Heels from 30th to 21st in the 247Sports Composite overall team rankings for the 2021 class and also moves the class to 4th in the ACC class rankings.