UNC football coach Larry Fedora told the AJC this week that the NCAA probation and penalties handed down earlier this month have actually been a “relief.”
How on Earth could Fedora say anything positive about a negative? It’s because North Carolina got assassinated on the recruiting trail while being under an internal and NCAA investigation for two long years.
“We were up against the unknown with recruiting kids,” Fedora said. “It’s hard to battle the unknown because people and other schools can say whatever they want. Now there’s really nothing they can say. It is what it is. Now we can move forward from it. It makes it a whole lot easier to recruit. People cannot use it against us in the future.”
North Carolina, not surprisingly, has been on a hot streak with recruiting since the NCAA finally revealed sanctions on March 12. In the past two weeks, the Tar Heels have landed the commitments of three prospects ranked 3-stars or higher, including Donnie Miles, a safety from North Gwinnett High School. Miles said the NCAA penalties, mainly a ban from a bowl game this season and the loss of 15 scholarships over a three-year period, did not factor into his consideration of UNC.
“I think a lot of the kids we’re trying to sign this year are relieved that that’s all it is [with the penalties],” Fedora said. “We’ve got a one-year bowl ban, and then it’s not really going to affect them. I think that’s the way a lot of them are looking at it.”
Unfortunately for North Carolina, it can’t go back and re-do its past two recruiting classes, which were greatly hindered while being under the dark clouds of speculation. There were all kinds of rumors flying around about the Tar Heels in the always vicious world of recruiting – stuff like they could get multiple years of bowl bans and that the parents of potential recruits may never see their kids play on TV.
Fedora, hired last December, did his best to salvage a respectable 2012 recruiting class, which included Flowery Branch QB Kanler Coker. However, the looming NCAA hammer caused some recruits to flee – 9 of 10 of the state of North Carolina’s top prospects signed with out-of-state schools, including the running back duo of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley with UGA.
North Carolina expects to be more successful with this year’s recruiting efforts.
“There’s no doubt recruiting will be easier because you know what you’re dealing with [with the NCAA penalties] and you’re able to address that situation, whereas before you only knew what you knew,” Fedora said. “Before a couple of weeks ago, you didn’t know what you had to battle because people were throwing all kinds of things out there.”
Back to UNC’s 2012 class: One of Fedora’s prized recruits was Flowery Branch QB Kanler Coker, who was convinced to make a late switch of his commitment from East Carolina to North Carolina. Coker flew under the recruiting radar because he played in a run-oriented offense as a high school junior, then transferred to Flowery Branch as a senior to play in the Spread and blossomed.
“I tell you what: We were probably very fortunate with getting in on him late, and that he did fly under the radar because I think if he had been playing in that offense for a few years, he would’ve been gone a long time ago before we got in there,” Fedora said. “Kanler was in a Wing-T offense, went to a Spread offense for his senior year, and just tore it up. He did tremendous. So I think a lot people really did not know about Kanler Coker . When you get around the young man, you find out how competitive he is. He has a tremendous will to win. He probably has that ‘it’ factor and all the intangibles that you look for in a great quarterback.”
Fedora said recruiting the state of Georgia is a top priority for his staff. What’s his message for this state’s 2013 recruits?
“I’d say things are changing at North Carolina,” Fedora said. “There’s a tremendous amount of excitement about the change. We’re going to bring a style of play on offense and defense that kids are going to love playing in, and we plan on winning championships. If you want to be part of that, and on top of it get a great education, you need to come to North Carolina.”
What do we think? This past year, for top recruits in the state of North Carolina, UNC’s loss (because of looming NCAA penalties) was the gain for schools such as Florida, UGA and Clemson. Timing is everything. Does UGA get both Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall without UNC’s woes? Remember both Gurley and Marshall were very high on UNC before things got serious with the NCAA.
JUST IN …
MARCH MADNESS, WHAT’S THAT? RECRUITING MADNESS!
WHILE YOUR BRACKETS GOT MESSED UP …
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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