Signed, sealed, delivered: Hood highlights UNC 2014 class
National Signing Day lacked any drama for North Carolina — which is exactly what UNC coach Larry Fedora hoped.
“Probably the best thing about the entire class is that all but two were locked in before July,” Fedora said during a press conference Wednesday after the 22 members of the Class of 2014 had sent in their National Letters of Intent.
Fedora said some of the commitments had already visited campus 10 to15 times, which made it less of an issue when three Tar Heels offensive assistants moved on after the 2013 season.
“It was a lot easier than I thought and a lot of the reason was we had those guys committed for such a long time, they considered themselves Tar Heels,” Fedora said. “They weren’t tied to a coach, they were tied to the university.”
Fedora said the coaches focused on speed, athleticism, academic achievement and character, and got those traits in what he called an “exceptional class.”
Despite having three fewer scholarships than normal to work with due to NCAA sanctions, UNC’s class was ranked between 21st and 32nd nationally and between 4th and 6th in the ACC by the four major recruiting services Eighteen of the recruits are from North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. Fedora has always put an emphasis on retaining the best in-state talent, and he said that UNC’s eight signees from the Old North State “were the best at their position in the state of North Carolina.”
The list includes wide receivers Josh Cabrera (Jacksonville), tight end Avery Edwards (Raleigh), kicker Freeman Jones (Bunn) and five players from Charlotte — wide receiver Austin Proehl (Charlotte), linebacker Cayson Collins (Charlotte), defensive lineman Robert Dinkins (Charlotte) running back Elijah Hood (Charlotte) and offensive lineman Bentley Spain (Charlotte).
Hood was the AP North Carolina High School Player of the Year after he ran for 3,690 yards last season, the second-most in state history, while Spain was selected for the U.S. Army All-America game and Proehl is the son of longtime NFL receiver and current Carolina Panthers assistant Ricky Proehl.
Hood and Spain were two of ESPN’s four four-star recruits that UNC picked up, along with pocket passer Caleb Henderson of Burke, Va., and guard Josh Allen of Jacksonville, Fla.
The only recruits to commit after last summer were wide receiver Devin Perry of Memphis, Tenn. and offensive lineman Jared Cohen of Owings Mills, Md., who both declared for UNC in the past month.
Perry gave the recruiting class a third wide receiver, something Fedora has had in each of his three seasons, while Cohen came aboard after starting center Russell Bodine declared for the NFL Draft, which Fedora said he was “very surprised” about.
There weren’t any more surprises in the last few weeks, leaving Fedora to focus on next year’s class. At 3:30 p.m., he said he had already talked to 80 players from the Class of 2015 on Wednesday.
“(Recruiting) is the most important thing we do as a staff,” Fedora said. “It is the backbone of our program. Without the players, it doesn’t matter what kind of coach you are, I can assure you.
“I’ve seen a lot of good coaches that become bad coaches in a hurry because they don’t have players, and I’ve seen some very average coaches get to be some really good coaches because they have great players. Hopefully we can great players in here and they can overcome our coaching.”
NOTES — Fedora said assistant head coach for offense Seth Littrell will call the plays next season. Littrell was officially hired on Jan. 24 to replace offensive coordinator Blake Anderson, who is now the head coach at Arkansas State. … Starting linebacker Travis Hughes is still suspended from the team after his arrest on Jan. 23 for misdemeanor assault following a confrontation with a campus parking officer. “Once everything runs its course then I will make a decision on what we’re going to do,” Fedora said. … Hood, Spain, tight end Brandon Fritts and defensive backs M.J. Stewart and Allen Artis are already enrolled at UNC.
Class of 2014 UNC Recruits
CHAPEL HILL — Football signees announced Wednesday by North Carolina, with name, position, height, weight, school and hometown:
Cameron Albright, db, 6-2, 210, North Cobb HS, Kennesaw, Ga.
Josh Allen, ol, 6-3, 285, University Christian, Jacksonville, Fla.
Allen Artis, db, 6-1, 190, Wheeler HS, Marietta, Ga.
Ayden Bonilla, db, 6-2, 200, Etowah HS, Woodstock, Ga.
Josh Cabrera, wr, 6-3, 190, Northside HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
Malik Carney, lb, 6-2, 210, T.C. Williams HS, Alexandria, Va.
Jeremiah Clarke, dl, 6-5, 275, T.C. Williams HS, Alexandria, Va.
Jared Cohen, ol, 6-4, 295, McDonogh HS, Owings Mills, Md.
Cayson Collins, lb, 6-1, 215, Berry Academy, Charlotte
Robert Dinkins, dl, 6-2, 235, Olympic HS, Charlotte
Avery Edwards, te, 6-5, 230, Ravenscroft, Raleigh
Brandon Fritts, te, 6-4, 215, Mentor (Ohio) HS
Caleb Henderson, qb, 6-3, 220, Lake Braddock HS, Burke, Va.
Elijah Hood, rb, 6-0, 220, Charlotte Catholic HS, Charlotte
Freeman Jones, k, 6-1, 185, Bunn (N.C.) HS
Devin Perry, wr, 6-2, 185, University School, Memphis, Tenn.
Tyler Powell, dl, 6-4, 255, Cosby HS, Midlothian, Va.
Austin Proehl, wr, 5-10, 175, Providence HS, Charlotte
Caleb Samuel, ol, 6-6, 260, First Presbyterian HS, Macon, Ga.
Bentley Spain, ol, 6-6, 285, Providence HS, Charlotte
M.J. Stewart, db, 5-11, 190, Yorktown HS, Arlington, Va.
Tyrell Tomlin, lb, 6-0, 220, Marietta (Ga.) HS