For just the second time in the 2024 recruiting cycle, the Tar Heels have landed a commitment from a prospect that is ranked inside the top 500 according to 247Sports Composite player rankings.
Earlier this afternoon, 2024 3✮ LB Ashton Woods announced that he was committing to Carolina over Baylor, Wake Forest and others. Woods' commitment comes just a few days after he put a bow on his official visit schedule with a trip to Waco. He was originally scheduled to visit Chapel Hill the final weekend of the month, but chose to take it earlier as part of a much smaller group back on June 2nd. That visit put the Tar Heels firmly back in the lead after assuming that spot back in the fall.
Woods, the No. 46 linebacker in the class, is prepping for his final season at Walton High School in Marietta, GA after back-to-back productive seasons. Last year as a junior, Woods earned the Atlanta region’s defensive player of the year award alongside first team All-State and All-Cobb County honors. He finished the year with 128 total tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, one interception and four passes defensed. As a sophomore back in 2021, he finished with 93 total tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, three interceptions and two pass defensed.
Woods is a perfect fit for what the Tar Heels are looking for in their linebackers and almost perfectly compliments what the team already has in this class. Mack Brown brought up the lack of being able to stop the run in his press conference again on Tuesday and that is where Woods thrives. He plays with the aggressive downhill mentality that all three linebackers in this class play with, but he is clearly the most impactful of the three. He does a great job of reading the gaps and makes himself thin to slip through and drop running backs for little or no gain. He doesn’t showcase the sideline-to-sideline ability often on his tape, but the athleticism is very evident. He looks very fluid in coverage, especially for a linebacker and has good enough closing speed to make plays on the football and ball carriers when he needs to. He should be an immediate contributor for the team on special teams when he arrives next year and should compete for a rotational role, especially with Cedric Gray likely gone at the end of this season.
With his commitment, the Tar Heels class now has 19 commitments, which is tied for the fifth most in the country during this recruiting cycle. The class once again reenters the top 15 in 247Sports Composite team rankings after a drop in recent days due to other commitments around the country. The class also sits 2nd in the ACC once again and is closing in on the top spot held by Clemson.