The next few days are going to be huge for the direction of the Tar Heels 2024 recruiting class. Over the course of the next three days, two of the team’s top-rated quarterback targets in the class will announce their commitments.
The first of the two will be 4✮ Jake Merklinger, the No. 55 overall prospect in the class according to 247Sports Composite player rankings. He announced via his social media Tuesday that he will be making his decision on Thursday at 12:05 PM EST from his high school, Calvary Day School in Savannah, GA. The announcement will be streamed live on 247Sports YouTube page.
Along with his commitment time, Merklinger also revealed his four finalists to the recruiting sites on Tuesday morning. The foursome is made up of the schools that he unofficially visited throughout the month of March. The Tar Heels were the first of the finalists to host him back on March 4th, a visit that seemed to go smoothly based on what he told recruiting experts afterward. He would follow that two weeks later with visits to Michigan State and Georgia in the same weekend He closed out his visit schedule this past weekend with a trip to Knoxville.
Heading into that visit, you could have made the argument that the Tar Heels held the slight advantage, but that no longer seems to be the case. Following the conclusion of the visit, 247Sports Director of Football Recruiting Steve Wiltfong cast a crystal ball in favor of the Volunteers and that has since been followed by many others doing the same on the major recruiting websites. The timing of this decision clearly shows that Josh Heupel and his staff blew him away this weekend unlike the other three schools in that top four.
This stings considering how well his visit to Chapel Hill went and the connection to Chip Lindsey that he seemed to be building. The fact that things aren’t looking all that bright on the Jadyn Davis front doesn't really help matters either. This recruitment might not be officially over, but Georgia is the team that many think could make him reconsider if they turn up the heat, not the Tar Heels. If Davis ends up at Michigan as expected, Chip Lindsey and the staff will have to turn their attention to 4✮ KJ Jackson and make a push to try to beat out Arkansas.