News 14 Carolina asked Brad Crawford, of CarolinaPreps.com, to share his thoughts on college football recruiting in the state of North Carolina just days before National Signing Day.
Q: Who are the significant recruits coming out of North Carolina – where are they committed?
A: The 2013 recruiting class from this state is a great one, perhaps the most talented group top to bottom in several years. In terms of elite level prospects, we have six who have already committed to BCS conference programs and a seventh expected to announce on National Signing Day. By most accounts, South View defensive end Greg Gilmore, an LSU commit, has the highest upside of any player, a 6-foot-4, 275-pound monster of a pass-rusher.
Mallard Creek's Marquez North, a lanky receiver with great speed, and Brian Walker, a talented cover corner, should make immediate impacts at Tennessee and North Carolina. Butler linebacker Peter Kalambayi was an all-state selection and for good reason. He is quick in pursuit with great range. He's headed west to Stanford. UNC commit T.J. Logan is another gem, Northern Guilford's workhorse tailback. Vance linebacker Larenz Bryant is one of South Carolina's highest-rated commits. Richmond County offensive lineman Tyrone Crowder is expected to join Bryant in the Palmetto State with Clemson being his likely destination. He'll announce on NSD at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.
Q: Where does the state rank in number of quality recruits going to major college programs?
A: The Southeastern Conference has produced the last seven national champions and it comes as no surprise that the southeast region produces college football's top talent on an annual basis. With that being said, it's tough for North Carolina to compete with states like Georgia and Florida who consistently pump out five-star, nationally-recognized prospects. In this class alone, Georgia has three of the nation's top players including consensus No. 1 Robert Nkemdiche, a 6-foot-4 pass-rushing specialist from Grayson High in Loganville who has listed Ole Miss as his leader. Two other five-star defenders, Montravious Adams (Dooly County) and Carl Lawson (Milton) are expected to announce their projected SEC intentions on NSD.
North Carolina will likely have right at 100 players sign big-time Division I letters of intent on NSD, far less in comparison to most other football-rich states in the southeast.
Q: Which players will have the most impact at the college level next year? After four years?
A: In a normal recruiting season for premiere programs, depth is already established on both sides of the ball at starting positions so incoming freshman often redshirt to build muscle, understand systems and so forth. For a few in-state guys headed to the SEC and ACC this summer, early playing time is there for the taking. South View's Greg Gilmore, the best defensive lineman in the state, should have an opportunity to play at LSU this fall due to so many NFL Draft early enrollees from last season. South Carolina graduated all three of its starting linebackers so you have to think a player like Charlotte Vance's Larenz Bryant will get early looks. After Gio Bernard's decision to turn pro early in Chapel Hill, Northern Guilford's T.J. Logan may be in the backfield mix in August.
Projecting an 18-year-old's football career four years from now is difficult unless you're looking at a transcendent high school talent ala Jadeveon Clowney or Adrian Peterson. Marquez North isn't in the same realm, but his athleticism will only improve in the SEC over the next few years in Knoxville. It wouldn't surprise me to him in the NFL at wide receiver since he possesses size, speed and maturity.
Q: Who is the most under-the-radar player heading to a major program?
A: Sleepers. They're always tough to pick, but that's why assistant coaches and lead recruiters are paid so well. Finding a 'diamond in the rough' is challenging, but I think N.C. State picked up three solid three-star commits in Jalen McDaniel (WR, Jack Britt), Cole Blankenship (OG, Davie County) and Patrick Roane (OT, Gray's Creek). The future Wolfpack offense under Dave Doeren is in good hands with these three all-conference standouts. McDaniel has great hands and his knack for out leaping defenders for receptions will be beneficial in the ACC against athletic defensive backs.
Q: Do you expect any surprises on signing day?
A: There are always a few surprises, but there doesn't seem to be any last-minute switcheroos next week. Most top players in North Carolina have already committed or have narrowed finalists to two or three. The final big remaining name yet to sign is Tyrone Crowder, a four-star guard out of Rockingham. Crowder enjoyed his official visit to Clemson, but Oregon is coming on hard late in the game. It'll be interesting to see if Crowder joins the no-huddle Quack Attack out west or if he'll stay relatively close to home in Death Valley.
Read more from Brad on CarolinaPreps.com