Signee Update: Ayden Bonilla

Signee Update: Ayden Bonilla

With his knee 100-percent healed, North Carolina signee Ayden Bonilla is anxious to test it out on UNC's practice fields.

"It feels like I never even tore my ACL," Bonilla said. "I've been cutting and doing DB drills and I don't even think about [my knee]. I can't wait to actually be able to play again and get ready for the season and actually play."

During a seemingly harmless seven-on-seven tournament last June, Bonilla, a safety from Woodstock (Ga.) Etowah, tore the ACL in his right knee while backpedaling without making contact with anyone.

Bonilla has been cutting – his knee's final "test" – for about two months. That has allowed him to completely follow the workout regimen that UNC sends each of its signees.

"I'm almost at the midway point," Bonilla said. "When I'm done with it, I'll be going to North Carolina two days later.

"There's more agility work compared to my high school workout. Like, we run 300-yard shuttles, which I've never done before. And it's super fast – like you do one thing and you switch right away to the next thing."

Bonilla says he has maintained his 6-foot-1, 205-pound figure, but has seen an increase in his strength, speed, agility, and stamina.

Despite missing his entire senior football season, Bonilla doesn't believe the UNC staff plans to red-shirt him this season.

"I've never mentioned about red-shirting," Bonilla said. "They've talked about me competing to earn a spot. They've talked about getting me in on special teams."

Once he verbally committed to UNC last June, Bonilla's contact with the UNC staff began to shift more to Vic Koenning, the Tar Heels' safeties coach. The two now speak on a near weekly basis.

"He'll ask me about my family and then we'll talk about the playbook and if I have any questions about the defense," Bonilla said.

Koenning projects Bonilla to play Ram within UNC's 4-2-5 defensive scheme.

"I think that's a great position for me, because it matches me up against a receiver," Bonilla said. "But I'm closer to the box like a linebacker. I'll be able to be physical with receivers and be more involved against the run."

Recently, Koenning offered Bonilla a few different jersey number options. Bonilla settled on No. 24.

The Monday before UNC's Spring Game, Bonilla was in Chapel Hill, where he attended a spring practice session. Although the experience was similar, it felt different compared to when he attended a spring practice the year prior as a recruit.

"It felt like it was home and I was like ‘Okay, this is what I'm going to be doing every day,'" Bonilla said.

Bonilla, who is qualified according to the NCAA Clearinghouse, plans to permanently move to Chapel Hill on June 16, where he'll share a suite with Cameron Albright, Cayson Collins, and Tyrell Tomlin.

Bonilla is undecided on a major, but said he's leaning towards history.

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