The big news of the week around Tar Heel football this week was the official timeline for return of the program to campus and Tony Grimes’ final four. That meant some other sizable storylines were able to slip under the radar. Here is what you may have missed this week.
Tony Grimes Recruitment Has Another, Interesting Element
It just wouldn’t be an edition of the weekly storylines without a headline about Grimes, and on Tuesday, Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports released a very interesting element of the 5✮ cornerback’s decision. As Wilfong told Josh Pate on his weekly podcast that Grimes is working to put himself in a position to be able to graduate this summer if the Virginia High School League was to cancel or postpone football for this upcoming fall. As of right now, the VHSL has not released an official return date and continues to insist that it will go as the Governor goes. As of right now, it seems like there is a lot standing in the way of Virginia playing high school football this year. If that becomes a reality, Grimes’ dad reportedly says they won’t wait and would likely look to enroll sometime this August following an expedited commitment to one of his final four schools. In this case, the Tar Heels would seem to be in a great spot, potentially in the driver's seat, to land his commitment in this case. While it’s likely that wherever he would go, he would likely not see any action, this has added even more reason for the Tar Heels to keep their foot on the gas in this recruitment.
Tar Heels in George Wilson’s Top Four
The Tar Heels landed on another top schools list for one of the state of Virginia’s best prospects. Since springing an offer on the newly-minted Composite 4✮ back on May 11th, the Tar Heels have gained some major momentum towards landing his commitment, despite entering the race late in his recruiting process, thanks in large part to his primary recruiter, Dré Bly. The Tar Heels are joined by Penn State, South Carolina and Arizona State in his top four and the goal as of right now is for him to visit all of four of these schools before making his decision. With uncertainty surrounding the status of the college football season due to a projected second wave of the COVID-19 virus, it will be interesting to see how long he ends up holding out for those visits. It’s not as easy to get a read on Wilson as some of the other prospects in this class, but as of right now, the Tar Heels have to feel great about their chances to land his commitment whenever he makes his decision.
Tim Cross Thinks There Is a Lot to Like About DL
Last Tuesday, the Tar Heels defensive line coach spent some time with the media. One of the main focuses of the press conference was on the young unit that the Tar Heels will have along the defensive line in 2020. Cross is not worrying about the youth the group is going to deal with, though. “I don’t have concerns about the lack of experience because there’s nothing I can do about it.” He instead is looking towards helping his youthful group expand on their potential. Jahlil Taylor instilled a lot of confidence in the staff last season and Cross, like defensive coordinator Jay Bateman believe, will have no problem sliding in as a starter at nose tackle. Guys like Raymond Vohasek and Tomari Fox showed some nice flashes a year ago and Cross looks at both of them as guys who he expects to take that next step forward. Both Kristian Varner and Kevin Hester Jr. redshirted this past season, but are guys that the staff, including Cross, have raved about after the work they put in during the winter workouts. While Cross didn’t focus on a specific true freshman, he did say that he is excited about what they bring to the table, especially from a pass rushing standpoint. This is the unit that most people are most concerned about with this 2020 team, but Cross’s confidence with the unit has to at least be somewhat encouraging.
Jefferson Boaz and Power Echols Take Home HighSchoolOT Awards
One of the top websites that covers high school athletics in the state of North Carolina, the HighSchoolOT.com crew released their athletic awards for the 2019-20 school year last Wednesday. Among those to receive awards were two Tar Heel commits, one in the 2020 class and the other in the 2021 class. Jefferson Boaz, who will join the team in August to compete for reps at quarterback, took home the sites Male Athlete of the Year after a phenomenal senior year at East Surry High School, where he threw for 4,599 yards and totaled 82 touchdowns while helping lead the Cardinals to a 1AA state championship on the football. On the basketball court, Boaz led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double, 23.9 point per game and 11.1 rebounds per game, as the team finished 18-7 and went to the second round of the 1A state playoffs before being knocked off. His senior baseball season was cut short, but he was expected to be one of the top pitchers in the area as he hoped to help lead the Cardinals to their third consecutive season with 20 or more wins. As for current 2021 cycle commit Power Echols, he took home the Defensive Player of the Year award for football. Echols finished his junior season. with 156 total tackles, 22.0 tackles for loss and 14.0 sacks on the way to earning defensive player of the year honors in the Charlotte area for the second straight season as he helped lead Vance High School to its first ever state championship in football.
Jace Ruder Making Progress
Ruder’s 2020 season was cut short due to a knee injury suffered against Appalachian State early in the season and setbacks have made his road to a return much more difficult than originally imagined. Now, however, Inside Carolina is reporting that the sophomore quarterback is setting up for a return for summer workouts. The 247Sports Tar Heel affiliate quoted Ruder on Wednesday night, saying that he feels “really good now”, a good sign for a guy that the Tar Heels are hoping to see battle incoming freshman Jacolby Criswell for the backup job when the team returns to the field this summer. Ruder holds the experience edge, but Criswell is an extremely talent player who seems to fit the offense perfectly, so with Ruder healthy and ready to go, this has the potential to be one of the best fall camp battles to watch in early August.