Friday will kick off what might be the most important recruiting weekend in the Mack Brown 2.0 era with the crossroads that the current regime has reached. Seventeen of the team’s top targets in the 2023 class are expected to be in town for the weekend on official visits, including a handful of major in-state prospects. We get you ready for this massive weekend by looking at where the Tar Heels stand with each prospect before they arrive to campus on Friday.
4✮ DL Daevin Hobbs- Jay M. Robinson (Concord, NC)
Hobbs is a guy that the staff should feel pretty good about heading into the weekend. The Tar Heels have been the long-time leader for the in-state product and despite taking an official visit to Auburn and camping with some other big name schools, it would be a shock if the Tar Heels didn’t leave the weekend still in the driver’s seat.
4✮ EDGE Rico Walker- Hickory (Hickory, NC)
Walker is a guy that has been rumored to be extending his recruitment into the fall, but that was before he set his official visit for this weekend. This is another prospect that the Tar Heels have been the leader with for a while now and while Tennessee has been a long time threat here and Maryland just hosted him for an official visit, the team still appears to be in the lead. The question now is can the Tar Heels lengthen that lead this weekend or possibly even persuade him to move up even further.
4✮ DL Keith Sampson Jr.- New Bern (New Bern, NC)
The Florida State commit is one of the most recent targets to add his name to the list of official visitors for this weekend after he announced last week he would take visits elsewhere. The Tar Heels and NC State are the recipients of those visits and the hope for Mack Brown and his staff has to be to at least reignite the flame and give him something to think about during the looming dead period.
4✮ WR Christian Hamilton- Hickory Ridge (Harrisburg, NC)
The Tar Heels will get the final say in the recruiting battle with Hamilton set to announce on July 1st. They seem to be the clear leader for his services at this time with Texas A&M as the only real competitor after he canceled his visit to Notre Dame last weekend. This feels like a chance for the Tar Heels to seal the deal and feel comfortable heading into next Friday.
4✮ QB Tad Hudson- Hough (Cornelius, NC)
Hudson will be the only visitor that will be a commit heading into the weekend and will be important to have on campus. He has been instrumental in trying to help piece this class together on social media and having him there in person around these guys will be significant.
4✮ CB Braeden Marshall- Lake Mary (Lake Mary, FL)
Marshall was a guy that the Tar Heels made a nice push for when they initially offered him, but he has cooled a bit on them since then. However, getting him on campus for the official visit is a big step for the staff and if they want him as part of the class, they still have the chance to get him. Central Florida is the leader for him right now, though, and the staff will need a really strong visit to overtake them.
3✮ WR Kevin Concepcion- Chambers (Charlotte, NC)
This feels like it is last call in Concepcion’s recruitment following his official visit to perceived leader NC State last weekend and now a visit to the biggest challenger, the Tar Heels, this weekend. There is a lot of confidence around those in Raleigh following this past weekend, so that thought is that the Tar Heels have to knock it out of the park to have a shot to land his commitment. This recruitment might be a little tighter than some of those experts think, but it is undeniable that this has to be a really strong showing for the Tar Heels this weekend.
3✮ CB Dale Miller- Deer Creek (Edmond, OK)
Miller is the guy that most fans probably know the least about in terms of the guys that are on campus, but the Tar Heels are in this is a chance for the Tar Heels to make an impression on him. Right now, everything points to him heading to Auburn, but if the Dré Bly and the guys are really wanting him to be a part of this class, they may be able to make a last gasp push this weekend to at least give him something to think about.
3✮ IOL Robert Grigsby- North Cobb (Kennesaw, GA)
Grigsby was a prospect that there was a lot of buzz around a month ago, but he has been going through his officially rather quietly throughout the last month and the Tar Heels will now get the final crack at him. Not much has changed in the pecking order of the teams right now, as it appears that Vanderbilt has a slight lead in this one, but if the Tar Heels want to, they could do enough to surge right past the Commodores and land this commitment.
3✮ WR Paul Billups Jr.- Western Branch (Chesapeake, VA)
Billups Jr. will be one of the most important players on campus this weekend with the glaring need that the team has in the class at outside receiver. The Tar Heels still appear to be firmly in the driver’s seat for his services, but he did take an official visit to Michigan State last weekend. This weekend is a chance to remove all doubt here ahead of what is currently scheduled as an August 24th commitment date.
3✮ DL Tyler Thompson- Panther Creek (Cary, NC)
Thompson was a target that at this time a week ago still felt like was in play for the Tar Heels if they wanted him. After his official trip to Michigan last weekend, though, it seems like there is little doubt that he will end up in Ann Arbor and he may not even make it to campus this weekend.
3✮ DL Rodney Lora- Woodberry Forest (Woodberry Forest, VA)
Lora’s recruitment is a tough one to read, but it feels like the Tar Heels still have a shot here if they want it. Virginia is seen as the leader at this point for him, but the Tar Heels seem to be right there with the Cavaliers. With other highly valued targets in this class along the defensive line, though, the question is, are the Tar Heel really pushing to get him at this time or do they look at him as a secondary option.
3✮ DL Joshua Horton- Langston Hughes (Fairburn, GA)
Horton was a guy that many were wondering if he would even make it to Chapel Hill, but he did confirm via social media that he will be there on Friday. The Tar Heels will still have to make up some significant ground on Auburn who appears to be closing in on his commitment. Much like with Lora, how much do the Tar Heels prioritize him within that defensive line group?
3✮ OT Koby Keenum- Mars Hill Bible School (Florence, AL)
Keenum confirmed on Wednesday that he will take his official visit this weekend after visits to Louisville and Kentucky in the past two weeks. This is promising for the Tar Heels, but this is a recruitment that might not be over after this visit concludes. There is some thought that he may want to take more visits later this summer or in the fall, but if the staff wants a short at him, they need to impress this weekend.
3✮ WR Tamarcus Cooley- Rolesville (Rolesville, NC)
This is another wide receiver battle that seems like it will come down to the Tar Heels and NC State. Cooley was another player that visited Raleigh last weekend and will now head to Chapel Hill for what is expected to be the final visit before his commitment. The question of where he stands on the Tar Heels board at the position is a good one and there really is no knowing until after we see how the rest of the targets at the position fall.
3✮ S Zachary Tobe- Ocoee (Ocoee, FL)
Tobe is a guy that the Tar Heels have been closely tied to since they offered him, but this is another battle where they have to fight off the charge of Central Florida who now appears to be in the lead for him. This is another one where it feels like if the Tar Heels want him, they can go get him due to how well he responded early on to the staff's interest.
3✮ LB Amare Campbell- Unity Reed (Manassas, VA)
This was a commitment that seemed like a sure thing a couple of weeks ago, but since then Maryland and now West Virginia have gotten official visits. His official visit in Chapel Hill will start on Friday and will likely involve him coming from West Virginia, a trip that wasn’t announced until yesterday. One has to wonder if one, he will even make it to Carolina, and two, if this offer is committable at this time.
*All photos via prospects social medias