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** Fedora, who finalized his third recruiting class as UNC’s head coach shortly after 9am, highlighted the emphasis his staff puts on National Signing Day every February.
“Recruiting is the most important thing we do as a staff,” Fedora told reporters at the Kenan Football Center. “It is the most important thing we do as a staff. It is the backbone of our program. Without the players, it doesn’t matter what kind of coach you are, I can assure you.”
UNC’s recruiting class was ranked 31st nationally and fifth in the ACC, according to Scout.com. Fedora indicated that all but two of the 22 signees were locked up before July.
** UNC signed 10 defensive prospects, a group headlined by four-star defensive lineman Jeremiah Clarke (6-5, 280 pounds).
“He’s got some length to him, so he can play on the edge, but he’s probably going to start out at the three-technique,” Fedora said.
Defensive tackle Tyler Powell is up to 265 pounds and Fedora expects the Midlothian, Va. product to add 30 more over the next year. Powell will also play on the interior at the three-technique, while Charlotte, N.C. native Robert Dinkins will play end.
** UNC’s trio of safety signees – Cameron Albright, Ayden Bonilla and Allen Artis – check in at the 6-2, 205-pound range and are capable of playing all three safety positions.
** On the offensive line, UNC signed a pair of interior options (Josh Allen, Jared Cohen) that are versatile enough to play both guard and center while landing two tackle prospects (Bentley Spain, Caleb Samuel) with plenty of length on the edge.
Fedora said Spain was “by far the best offensive lineman in the state.”
Cohen was a late addition to UNC’s class after the coaching staff learned that junior center Russell Bodine was declaring early for the NFL Draft. Fedora told reporters that he was “very surprised” by Bodine’s decision and that it forced the staff to change directions “midstream” to locate a fourth offensive lineman in the month leading up to Signing Day.
** While the top prospect in the state of North Carolina - running back Elijah Hood – has earned plenty of headlines since committing and enrolling at UNC, four-star quarterback Caleb Henderson has gone virtually unnoticed.
According to Fedora, Henderson “likes to run the football, will lower his shoulder and likes to run it, but can spin it anywhere he wants to on the field.”
The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder drew initial praise as well from new associate head coach for offense Seth Littrell.
“When you watch him on film, the first thing that stands out is he’s got a cannon,” Littrell said. “Very strong arm. Does a great job with his accuracy. But he’s a bigger kid and you would think he’s more of a pro-style guy, but he has the athleticism to move around and run the football, which brings another dimension to his game.”
** The 2014 class represents the final group feeling the effects of UNC’s scholarship reductions. The Tar Heels have been limited to 20 scholarships in each of their last three classes – 25 is the norm – which has shrunk the staff’s margin of error.
“You can’t really reach out there and extend yourself very far,” Fedora said. “You’re trying to project some kids, but you have got to really be sure because for every one you miss, it’s going to hurt you double.”
UNC can sign a full allotment of recruits next February.
** Speaking of the 2015 class, UNC’s ability to wrap up its 2014 class back in the summer has allowed for plenty of work on the next recruiting cycle.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on ’15, actually,” Fedora said. “We’re way ahead on ’15 right now. Since about 6:30 this morning, I’ve been hitting it really hard on the ’15 guys. I think we’ve talked to somewhere around 80 kids today that are ’15 guys that I personally have talked to.”