What’s your plan for reaching out to North Carolina’s recruits and commitments as you work through this transition period?
“It’s important that they understand what my mission with the football program is. I’m going to reach out to the high school coaches and then obviously all of the great players in the state as soon as they allow me to do that. As soon as we hit the ground, we’re going to hit it full speed ahead.”
How will you handle the current commitments, especially considering they were recruited for a different system?
“First of all, we’ll evaluate every one of those kids, but I also want them to know that we will honor every one of those commitments. We’re going to do that because that’s the right thing to do. And then we’ll try to fit the kid into the system depending on where he fits, and it may not necessarily be the position that he thought he was going to play, but we will make him fit.”
Given the limited time you’ll have – roughly a month – to put together this class and the potential for scholarship reductions, what’s your plan of attack?
“Well, first, it will be having a staff almost completely put together at that point and then getting on the ground there and evaluating as much tape during the dead period as we can possibly evaluate ... and then after that, it’s getting on the phone, getting in front of them, their families, their high school coaches.
“Here’s the deal – it’s making sure every kid in the state of North Carolina understands that he can reach all, and I mean all, of his dreams and goals right there at the University of North Carolina so he doesn’t have to leave the state to reach his dreams or to reach his goals. It’s going to be able to be accomplished right there in the Carolina blue. So if we can get the kids in the state of North Carolina to understand that if they all stay together, we will win championships at the University of North Carolina.”
Along those lines, the programs in this state have had trouble keeping the top prospects home. What’s the key in preventing that from happening?
“It’s still about building relationships. They have to learn to trust and learn that whatever we say is the way it’s going to be. If I can get the coaches in the state and the players in the state to understand that if we stick together – there are great players in the state of North Carolina – if you stick together and go to one place, you can achieve all of the dreams and goals you want. You can win championships and you can do it in your home state in front of your own fans, in front of the people that have been watching you in high school, in front of your families that don’t have to travel as far. There are so many advantages to playing close to home.”
As you put your staff together, how much of an emphasis will you place on an assistant coach’s ability to recruit?
“That’s huge. In the list of characteristics that I’m looking for, that’s in the top three. Those are things that are very important. If you have a coach that cares about kids, then he’s going to be a good recruiter because that passion for caring about kids is going to come out in his conversations and the way he carries himself and the way he is around kids. It doesn’t take a player long to figure that out.”
During that assistant coach hiring process, how important is it to find coaches with recruiting experience in the mid-Atlantic area?
“I think that’s important, there’s no doubt about that, but I also think a mixture is fine. I think it’s important to have some of that on your staff, but more importantly, I think it’s the type of people that you hire. If you’ve got a guy that’s recruited the state of Florida and he’s a great recruiter in the state of Florida, I don’t have any doubt in my mind that he’s going to be a great recruiter in the state of North Carolina. If you can recruit, you can recruit. There’s an art to it. It’s not a science. Every guy has his own way of doing it, but the ones that are successful year-in and year-out, no matter where they recruit… It’s easy to go into one area and recruit that area for 10-15 years, you know? You ought to be good. But if you’ve been doing it at different places, at multiple places, that’s what makes you a great recruiter.”
Under Butch Davis, UNC recruited prospects with NFL potential by placing an emphasis on size and speed. What will you emphasis when evaluating prospects?
“First of all, everybody has a profile for their system and their players. That’s important – you have to have a profile, a template, that at least gives you a baseline for a kid. But probably the biggest thing is does that kid love playing football? Does he really love playing the game and everything there is about it? The grind of practices, the workouts, the lifting, the running. Does he love the process or does he just love the destination? Because those kids that love the process, the kids that love every aspect of the game of football, they’re going to be better football players and they’re going to give you every ounce of what they have. Those are the types of kids it takes to win championships.”
What role will summer camps play in your recruiting plan?
“Obviously, that’s critical in this time and day. You have to get kids on your campus. You have to be able to show them what you have to offer, because you’ve got a product that you’re selling to them. If they can go somewhere else and get a better product… They’re no different than anybody else, they’re going to do that. So you have to show them that your product is as good or better than anybody else’s. And then that’s the reason they choose your product. So with camps, getting those kids on campus, getting those high school coaches on our campus, getting them around our coaches is critical to our success.”
You’ve already talked about the importance of recruiting the state of North Carolina, but will you extend your recruiting base past those borders for more of a regional approach?
“No doubt about it. Just about everybody looks about 4-5 hours [driving time] around their university. We will do that and recruit that area extensively. But I want to make a point that the state of North Carolina is No. 1. It is the most important. I want as many kids on our roster from the state of North Carolina as possible. That is where the majority of our alums are. That is where the majority of our fans are, so that just draws more interest. But yes, we’ll draw the line 4-5 hours around [Chapel Hill] and we’re going to recruit that area extensively.
"The other thing – an advantage that we have at the University of North Carolina is that we have a national brand. So if there’s a kid out there that shows interest in the Carolina blue, then we’re going to recruit him. And if he can help us win a championship, then we’re going to be all over him.”