There are four primary coaches involved with any given recruit – the area coach, the position coach, the coordinator and Fedora.
When offensive guard Josh Allen, hailing from Jacksonville, Fla., verbally committed to UNC on Jun. 24, he did so after Dan Disch (area) laid the ground work and Chris Kapilovic (position) moved into the lead position. Offensive coordinator Blake Anderson and Fedora checked off on Allen before UNC offered the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder.
In the case of four-star offensive tackle commitment Bentley Spain, Gunter Brewer served as the Charlotte, N.C.-area coach while Kapilovic once again played a critical role as position coach.
While this tiered system is effective in avoiding judgment errors, prospect evaluations are not limited to those four coaches.
“Usually before it gets to me, we’re going to look at that kid as a staff so that everybody in the staff room is on the same page with how we feel about that kid,” Fedora told reporters at last week’s 2013 ACC Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C. “But ultimately, the buck stops with me.”
Fedora stressed the need for his staff to do a “great job” of evaluating talent.
“It’s not necessarily where somebody ranks them or what somebody else thinks about a young man, it’s what we as a staff, through our evaluation process, think about them,” Fedora said.
Due to UNC’s spread offense and 4-2-5 defense, traditional guidelines for evaluating high school players may not be relevant.
“It’s getting the guys that fit what we do,” Fedora said. “There are some really good football players out there that may not fit what we do and so therefore we may not recruit them. It’s not a slight to them. It’s just that they don’t necessarily fit what we’re looking for.”
The second-year UNC head coach offered the example of a 245-pound high school kid that projected as a physical, point-of-attack 275-pound tight end in college. He may not be what UNC is looking for at that position, according to Fedora, despite being recruited by every school in the country.
Fedora also provided the hypothetical of a 6-foot-6 quarterback with a great arm, but was also a pocket passer lacking mobility.
“That’s not necessarily what we’re looking for in our offense and so we may not go after that kid very hard,” Fedora said. “Some people may get mad that we’re not, but we’ve still got to do what we think is best for our program.”
And while Vic Koenning’s Ram and Bandit hybrid positions on defense are custom built for tweeners – those prospects that fall between the cracks of traditional positions such as end, linebacker and safety – Fedora added running back to the list of positions where his staff may look beyond the usual prospects.
“I don’ t need that 6-foot, 240-pound running back in this offense necessarily,” Fedora said. “Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take one, but I don’t need to build at all around those guys. And so you’re going to see some variety in what we take at running back.
“One thing is we’re obviously always looking for speed, but we’re also looking for production. We’re looking for a guy that can catch the ball because that’s a big part of what we do with our running backs. They have to be able to catch the ball in our offense.”
UNC running backs caught 69 passes for 776 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012.
The other aspect involved in evaluation surrounds roster management.
“You can’t take 15 running backs just because you’ve got a bunch of great running backs in the state,” Fedora said. “You’ve only got so many scholarships. You have to pick and choose wisely.”
UNC can only enroll 20 prospects next summer due to NCAA recruiting restrictions. The Tar Heels currently have 21 commitments for 2014 in place, highlighting the staff’s ability to complete most of the heavy lifting prior to the start of training camp on Thursday.
“When Signing Day happens, I’d love to have them all committed the very next day, but it doesn’t happen that way,” Fedora said. “I’ll take them any time they want to come.”
UNC’s 2014 recruiting class currently ranks 17th nationally and fourth in the ACC, according to Scout.com.