Maximizing Exposure

Maximizing Exposure

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina will travel to Charlotte on Thursday for a spring scrimmage, utilizing a NCAA bylaw that most ACC programs have overlooked to showcase the Tar Heel football team to fans and recruits in other parts of the state.

The NCAA Division I Manual is filled with 434 pages of rules and regulations that are often viewed as overbearing and repetitive. But a thorough reading and comprehension of the rulebook allows for recognition of certain bylaws that most schools pass over, for one reason or another.

Case in point: NCAA Bylaw 16.8.1.1, which states, "expenses may be paid for practice sessions only if they are associated with an away-from-home contest or conducted at a site located within the member institution's state or, if outside that state, no more than 100 miles from the institution's campus."

Larry Fedora's first head coaching job at Southern Miss came with two SEC programs – Ole Miss and Mississippi State in his backyard. In an attempt to make in-roads against his in-state foes, Fedora scheduled off-campus scrimmages at Ocean Springs High School in Ocean Springs, Miss., on the Gulf Coast.

The obvious question, of course, is why didn't Ole Miss and Mississippi State schedule their own off-campus scrimmages? The simple answer is that they aren't allowed to do so. The SEC's Commissioner's Regulations Governing Conference Competition, Championships and Tournaments requires that all spring practices be "conducted on the campus."

The ACC has no such rule, so Fedora decided to continue his off-campus scrimmages at North Carolina. It's a smart move considering that Virginia is the only other ACC program utilizing the bylaw. Is it a coincidence that UVa head coach Mike London scheduled his off-campus practices in the fertile recruiting ground of the Tidewater? Of course not.

And that's also a primary reason – even though Fedora brushed aside a question about the recruiting ramifications of the trip on Monday – that North Carolina will hold its scrimmage at Mallard Creek High School on Charlotte.

"While the intent may not be for recruiting purposes, hosting a scrimmage two hours away in an area that is an in-state hotbed for talent, such as Charlotte, will help UNC with its goal of keeping home grown talent in-state," InsideCarolina.com recruiting analyst Don Callahan said. "Just like any ordinary fan, area recruits can attend the scrimmage free of charge, get a sneak peak at UNC's new offense and defense, and how the new coaching staff coaches."

Since Mallard Creek first opened in 2007, six players have signed with FBS schools, including UNC red-shirt freshman quarterback Marquise Williams and Florida signee D.J. Humphries, a five-star prospect in 2012. Four prospects from the 2013 class claim FBS offers, including UNC verbal commitment Brian Walker and Marquez North, who is considered by many to be the state's top recruit.

The Charlotte metro area has long been a recruiting hotbed that SEC schools and nearby Clemson have feasted on. North Carolina's new coaching staff is intent on bucking that trend, and for obvious reasons -- there are approximately two dozen recruits in the 2013 and 2014 classes that are within a 30-minute drive to Charlotte.

That list includes local standouts such as Peter Kalambayi (Matthews Butler), Larenz Bryant (Charlotte Vance), R.J. Prince (Albemarle), Dane Rogers (Shelby Crest), Uriah LeMay (Matthews Butler), Desmond Lawrence (Charlotte Christian), Riley Ferguson (Matthews Butler), Carlis Parker (Statesville), Keeon Johnson (Kannapolis Brown), Tristan Mumford (Statesville) and LaChaston Smith (South Iredell).

"With what we want to accomplish, we're going to get it done with players from the state of North Carolina," Fedora said on Monday. "We're working hard at keeping all of the great players here in the state of North Carolina. I think that's very important for our success in the future."

Recruits are permitted to attend Thursday's scrimmage, but they cannot communicate with members of UNC's coaching staff due to the current NCAA Quiet Period that runs through Apr. 14.

NCAA Bylaw 17.9.6.4 (e) allows for three of a program's 15 spring practices to be devoted primarily (defined as greater than 50 percent of practice time) to 11-on-11 scrimmages. North Carolina held its first scrimmage on Wednesday, Mar. 28 and the spring game on Apr. 14 will count as the third and final scrimmage opportunity.

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