Signing Day: Coach Larry Fedora focused on talent, intangibles

Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:35 PM

Faced with scholarship reductions, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said he focused on speed, athleticism and versatility in putting together the 17-player recruiting class that was introduced Wednesday on signing day.

“Quality over quantity is the way I like to talk about it,” Fedora said. “With the situation we are in with scholarships, we have a much smaller margin of error, so we have to do a tremendous job of evaluating these kids in a lot of different areas.”

UNC has been docked 15 scholarships over a three-year period due to NCAA violations that were committed before Fedora came aboard.

Fedora was hired just two months before signing day last year, but his staff had 13 months to recruit the Class of 2013, which features nine players on offense and eight on defense. Fedora said they used the time to figuring out intangibles on each player like character, football IQ, family support and the will to succeed.

Recruiting coordinator Walt Bell said that the scholarship limits made the staff pickier.

“Really what it means is you can’t have a big bust,” Bell said. “Not every player has to be an all-American, but you can’t have a player get sent home after two weeks.”

Bell also said that versatility was key — for example, offensive lineman Brad Henson of Surf City, N.J. played tackle, guard and center in high school.

The signing class features one player from the Rivals 250 — No. 87 T.J. Logan, a running back from Greensboro. It also has five players who are listed in the ESPN 300 — defensive back Brian Walker from Charlotte (the highest-rated player at No. 118), defensive tackle Greg Webb from Erial, N.J., quarterback Mitch Trubisky from Mentor, Ohio, and wide receivers Johnathan Howard from Rochelle, Ga. and Jordan Fieulleteau from Raleigh Wakefield.

“This group is going to be the basis for multiple championships here at the University of North Carolina,” Fedora said Five members of the signing class play on the defensive line. Fedora said Marquis Haynes of Jacksonville, Fla. and Dajaun Drennon of Clementon, N.J. bring speed and explosiveness on the edge to help with the pass rush, while the 6-2, 310-pound Webb provides the girth to make up for the loss of defensive tackle Sylvester Williams.

The class also features Hillside grad Khris Francis, a running back who one of four players who enrolled in school last month. Since star runner Giovani Bernard declared for the NFL — leaving just two veterans in the backfield entering the 2013 season — Fedora said Logan and Francis could find themselves on the field as true freshmen.

Logan was the AP player of the year in North Carolina after rushing for 3,146 yards and 47 touchdowns as a senior for Northern Guilford, despite playing in the fourth quarter only twice because of lopsided scores.

Fedora said that Francis has already impressed head strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez with his workouts since he entered school early.

“Lou said Khris is a workout beast right now,” Fedora said. “He’s already doing things that the older kids are doing, he’s already even with them. So that’s pretty special, because he should be in high school right now. He should be worried what color his tux should be for the prom.”

Francis was also the first player in the class to agree to come to UNC when he gave a verbal commitment on Feb. 8, 2012 before a UNC-Duke basketball game. Hillside teammate Korrin Wiggins also committed that night, but announced Wednesday morning he will go to Clemson instead.

“There’s some kids that may get away, but I’ve learned this in recruiting — you don’t worry about the ones that get away,” Fedora said. “You better worry about the ones you got because you’re going to have them for four years.”

2013 NORTH CAROLINA SIGNEES

Name Pos Ht Wt School Hometown
Mikey Bart de 6-3 245 Buford (Ga.) HS
Lucas Crowley ol 6-3 270 Nease HS Ponte Vedra, Fla.
Dajaun Drennon de 6-4 230 Timber Creek HS Clementon, N.J.
Jordan Fieulleteau wr 6-3 200 Wakefield HS, Raleigh
Khris Francis rb 5-9 195 Hillside HS, Durham
Marquis Haynes bandit 6-3 220 University Christian HS Jacksonville, Fla.
Brad Henson ol 6-5 295 Monsignor Donovan HS Surf City, N.J.
Johnathan Howard wr 6-4 195 Wilcox County HS Rochelle, Ga.
Nazair Jones dl 6-5 250 Roanoke Rapids HS
Desmond Lawrence db 6-1 175 Charlotte Christian HS Charlotte
T.J. Logan rb 5-10 180 Northern Guilford HS Greensboro
Donnie Miles db 5-11 200 North Gwinnet HS Lawrenceville, Ga.
R.J. Prince ol 6-6 300 Albemarle HS
Ryan Switzer ath 5-10 175 George Washington HS Charleston, W.Va.
Mitch Trubisky qb 6-3 200 Mentor (Ohio) HS
Brian Walker db 5-11 175 Mallard Creek HS Charlotte
Greg Webb dt 6-2 310 Timber Creek HS Erial, N.J.