The Tar Heels have been destroying the 2020 basketball recruiting trail, but Mack Brown and the football staff are continuing to build on their 2020 class, as well after a great start to the cycle. In his press conference on Monday, Brown referenced the fact that the Tar Heels played host to 119 recruits on Saturday during their matchup against Clemson. That group included multiple major targets in both 2020 and 2021 class, headlined by some major in-state recruits. This makes it the perfect time to update on the status of some major Tar Heels targets and where the Heels stand in terms of landing their services.
2020 5✮ WDE Desmond Evans
The Tar Heels biggest remaining target in the 2020 class has been on campus for all three of the Tar Heels home games so far this season. 247Sports has him 100% crystal balled to North Carolina right now and everything that we are hearing and seeing right now is saying that that will not be changing anytime soon. Evans still has yet to visit any school besides Carolina during his recruitment and as of right now it looks like the Tar Heels are closing in on landing their first 5✮ commit since Donte Paige-Moss in 2009. The question of when he will announce his commitment is an interesting one, though, and the expectation is that he will commit sometime before the early signing deadline on December 20th.
2020 4✮ OLB Trenton Simpson
Simpson was a surprise visitor to Kenan Stadium on Saturday and that generated plenty of buzz about where his recruitment stands. Simpson committed to Auburn back on June 14th following an official visit, leaving the Tar Heels, who were a long-time favorite for him prior to the commitment, a bit stunned. However, as predicted at the time of his commitment, Simpson’s recruitment doesn’t appear to be over just yet. Simpson’s visit to Chapel Hill this weekend was his first visit to any school since his commitment and there are some rumblings that the Tar Heels are not fully out of the race for his services just yet. Expect Mack Brown and the staff to make a heavy push for the No. 3 outside linebacker in the 2020 class.
2020 4✮ WR KeAndre Lambert
With his decision looming on Friday, it’s worth updating you where the Tar Heels stand with the Norfolk, VA native. Lambert was on campus for the September 7th game against the Miami Hurricanes and was encouraged by the way the Tar Heels used their wide receivers in Phil Longo’s scheme. At that time, there was some optimism that the Tar Heels could make a push late, but 2020 3✮ CB Lamareon James‘ decommitment was a blow to the Tar Heels chances. There is still a chance that the Tar Heels could land his commitment, though, especially with the fact that he did not take his scheduled visit to Virginia Tech over the weekend. Many outlets believe that Carolina and Penn State are the last two schools being considered, but that Penn State, as of right now, will enter the decision as a strong favorite.
2020 4✮ DT Jacolbe Cowan
Lambert isn’t the only target that will announce his commitment on Friday. Cowan, the high school teammate of current Tar Heel commit Kedrick Bingley-Jones, will be announcing his college choice shortly before or after Providence Day’s huge matchup with the Christ School. With Bingley-Jones’ close connection with him, some thought the Tar Heels might have a slim chance at landing his commitment. However, as confirmed to us by Tar Heel Illustrated’s Jarrod Hardy, Cowan will not be a take for this 2020 class, as they focus on Evans as we highlighted above. The No. 7 defensive tackle in the 2020 class will be heading elsewhere, most likely Ohio State.
2020 4✮ S Malcolm Greene
This is a name that has kind of slipped under the radar to this point, but after his visit to Chapel Hill for the Clemson game, it should be a name you’ll be hearing a lot throughout the remainder of the 2020 cycle. Greene seems to be getting closer to beginning his official visits and Carolina seems to be one of the favorites to receive one after Saturday’s successful visit. Greene fits a position of need for the Tar Heels in this 2020 class and will likely be a major focus over the next couple of months on the trail.
2021 5✮ RB Will Shipley
With him being the son of two former NC State graduates, many thought that Shipley was a lock to be a part of Dave Doeren’s 2021 class. While many still believe that might ultimately be the decision in the end for Shipley, Saturday’s visit to Chapel Hill shows that it is far from a guarantee. Shipley’s visit reportedly went very well, according to Inside Carolina, and with him being rated as the No. 2 prospect in the state of North Carolina for the 2021 class, expect the staff to do everything they can do make a major push for him
2021 4✮ PRO Drake Maye
Maye committed to Alabama back on July 17th, but the recent commitment of 2020 5✮ PRO Byrce Young has thrown an interesting wrench into this commitment. Rumors have said Maye and his family are not thrilled with the decision of the Crimson Tide’s pursuit of a quarterback after his commitment. As of right now, there is no concrete evidence that Maye will decommit from Alabama, but the fact that many believe Young has the ability to start immediately when arrives to campus means that there is a possibility of Maye decommitting at some point.
2021 4✮ WR Gavin Blackwell
Blackwell is one of the most talented players in the 2021 class and his connection to current Tar Heel starting quarterback Sam Howell is what has them in a great position to land a commitment from him. South Carolina and NC State are the other schools that will make a push, but Blackwell has a special relationship with Howell and also has seemed to love his fit in the Tar Heel offense. With Howell helping Carolina in this recruitment, it’s not too bold to say that the Tar Heels are the early favorites to be the decision for him at some point.
2021 4✮ SDE Jahvaree Ritzie
Ritzie has been taking plenty of unofficial visits early on this season and the Tar Heels have been one of the major beneficiaries. Of the four unofficial visits Ritzie has taken, the Tar Heels have received visits during the Miami and Clemson games and everything that Ritzie has said following those visits has been positive. Ritzie is still closely tied to NC State, but the Tar Heels are establishing a good connection early on with him, as well, and are setting up for an epic in-state battle for his services.
2021 3✮ SDE Keeshawn Silver
Ritzie isn’t the only defensive lineman that has frequented Carolina over the last few months. The Tar Heels have built a strong relationship with Silver, the No. 20 player in the state of North Carolina in the 2021 class, who has said multiple times that he loves how Jay Bateman uses his defensive ends. Inside Carolina released an article on Wednesday stating that he had an early top five in place, but Silver immediately rejected that fact, stating that he does not have one in place just yet. While that may be true, the Tar Heels have made a huge impact early on with the Rocky Mount High School product.
2021 3✮ ILB Dameon Wilson
Wilson, like Ritzie above, has already been on campus twice so far this season. He released a top five earlier this offseason with Carolina amongst them and his frequent visits to campus lead us to believe that Tar Heels have the early advantage to land this talented young player at a position of need for the team in both the 2020 and 2021 classes.
2021 UR TE Bryson Nesbit
Nesbit is one of the hottest names on the 2021 recruiting trail right now, as he has picked up six scholarship offers since Monday. The Tar Heels are one of those six and don’t be shocked if he is in attendance for the Tar Heels final three home games as they try to establish some early leverage.