The Tar Heels have missed on their two biggest at weakside defensive end targets in the 2021 class in the past month and half. With the team in need of depth at the RUSH end position, the staff will now have to find a new set of primary targets going forward. We take a look at some names to know at the position who the Tar Heels could chase after.
4✮ WDE Kevin Gilliam- Highland Springs (Highland Springs, VA)
Although the Tar Heels were one of Gilliam’s first Power 5 offers back in April of last year, there isn’t really a strong connection between him and the Tar Heel staff. While there may still be some time to establish momentum here, he has already released top ten with the Tar Heels absent. The good news is, Gilliam might not quite be what the Tar Heels are looking to add here. At 6’3, 250 lbs., his body and play style fits more of the 4i-tech position than the RUSH end position and with Keeshawn Silver and Jahvaree Ritzie already committed in this class, the Tar Heels are not in need of another player that can play the 4i-tech spot.
3✮ WDE Deonte Anderson- Forte Meade (Fort Meade, FL)
This would be a new offer for the staff, but it would definitely be worth it. Anderson’s tape is spectacular, highlighted by his quickness off the line of scrimmage and impressive length. The other positive for the Tar Heels, if they choose to pop the offer, is that he seems to still be in the early stages of his recruitment and there isn’t really a clear leader at this point. The early contenders here involve schools like Central Florida, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, a group that looks navigable if the Tar Heels were to get involved.
3✮ WDE Aaron Hall- Southern Durham (Durham, NC)
Hall is another player who has yet to receive an offer from the Tar Heels, but would be a good fit for what the Tar Heels are in search of. He isn’t nearly as complete of a player as the first two guys that we have talked about here, but his athleticism and length allow him to cause problems off the edge for offensive tackles. The obstacle here is the fact that Hall is currently committed to the rival Duke Blue Devils. An offer from Mack Brown and his staff may make him reconsider; it may not. There is no telling unless the Tar Heels offer.
3✮ WDE Alex Okelo- Pearl-Cohn (Nashville, TN)
The only other uncommitted offer at the position for the Tar Heels in this class is another player that the staff has not really been able to establish a strong relationship to this point. Okelo has that long, athletic frame that the Tar Heels are looking for at that RUSH end position and his film shows that even though he only has 217 lbs. on his 6’5 frame, he is physical enough to become a complete pass rusher in time. Like Anderson, it still seems to be early in Okelo’s recruitment, so there is still time for the Tar Heels to make noise. All but one of his offers are from Power 5 teams, though, so there is some stiff competition, but one has to believe the Tar Heels would stand a good chance here if they were to pursue him.
3✮ WDE James Smith- Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, VA)
While he may not be nearly as talented as his teammate, Tony Grimes, a Tar Heel commit to this class before he reclassified, there is something to work with here. He is not the prototypical fit at RUSH end and this is a guy that would likely only get an offer if the team felt this was a dire need, but he is worth watching. If they do send an offer his way, you have to feel like the Tar Heels have a strong chance to land him because of his school's relationship with the staff.
3✮ WDE Ryheem Craig- Alexander Central (Taylorsville, NC)
Craig is another guy whose tape is really fun to watch. While his length may not rival guys like Anderson or Hall, his quickness off the line of scrimmage and physical edge make him an intriguing fit for the RUSH end position. Like Hall, Craig is already committed so the question here is would an offer from Mack and the crew have any effect on him? As an in-state player, don’t be shocked if he receives an offer.