UNC, NC State have busy National Signing Days

Early signing period in December removed much of the drama

Nov 25, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora prior to a game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

With the debut of college football’s early signing period in late December, much of the drama was taken from February’s National Signing Day.

Each of the local teams signed the majority of their 2018 classes just before the holiday season, allowing them to turn their focus to the Class of 2019. North Carolina signed 14 recruits in December. Wake Forest and NC State each inked 21, and Duke added 15. App State brought in 24, Charlotte 18 and ECU 19.

Despite the early success, there were a few twists and turns for the in-state teams when the classic February signing day rolled around. Here’s a team-by-team look on Wednesday’s drama.

North Carolina: Larry Fedora had the most eventful day of the in-state crew. He opened National Signing Day still awaiting announcements from eight undecided players and paperwork from three unsigned commitments.

The committed players all submitted their letters of intent, as expected. The Tar Heels welcomed DeAndre Hollins, a three-star cornerback out of Tampa. Hollins committed last June but decided not to sign in December. The Heels also got a letter from three-star linebacker Matthew Flint, who flipped from Tennessee in January and had already enrolled at Carolina. Georgia three-star offensive tackle Joshua Ezeudu also committed last month and turned in his letter.

Fedora suffered three early losses on Signing Day, as prospects began donning hats and choosing schools. Three-star running back Anthony Grant, a former Tennessee commit, chose Florida State over UNC, as did three-star defensive tackle Jamarcus Chatman.

The big loss for Fedora was four-star linebacker Dax Hollifield. The Shelby standout chose Virginia Tech over Carolina, a particularly painful loss since another in-state four-star linebacker, Peyton Wilson, had flipped from UNC to NC State just before the December signing period.

Fedora got on the board at Joel Berry II’s alma mater, when Apopka, Fla., offensive linemen Ed Montilus and William Barnes both signed with the Heels. Barnes, a four-star, is the highest-rated lineman Fedora has signed at UNC. Montilus is a three-star.

Fedora also signed defensive lineman Gavin Lewis a three-star from Alabama who picked the Heels over UCLA.

Carolina lost out on four-star defensive tackle Rick Sandidge, who chose South Carolina, and is still waiting for word from four-star wide receiver Antoine Green.

NC State: The Wolfpack locked down two previously committed upperclassmen in USC transfer Cary Angeline, a highly regarded tight end, and JUCO defensive tackle Val Martin.

The big Signing Day storyline for State surrounded three-star defensive end Derrick Eason. The Norfolk, Va., standout committed to State last July but chose not to sign in December. That left him open to a late full-court press from Notre Dame. The Irish had him in for an official visit two weekends ago, and he was thought to be strongly considering pulling the trigger on a flip. In the end, however, Eason turned his letter in to State coach Dave Doeren.

Late in the day, Doeren pulled another coup, landing four-star cornerback Taiyon Palmer, who chose the Pack over Nebraska and Tennessee. Palmer had been rumored to be leaning to State ever since he decommitted from Duke in November, but there was plenty of competition for him over the last two months.

Duke: The Blue Devils were quiet during the month and a half following the early signing period, until landing a commitment on Signing Day eve. Three-star cornerback Ken Torain, a former UCLA commit, chose the Blue Devils and signed with coach David Cutcliffe’s squad. Duke had Torain in last weekend for his official visit, and he picked Duke over presumed leader Nebraska, as well as South Florida and Louisville, where he took official visits.

Wake Forest: Like Duke, Wake had a quiet month and a half before adding one last recruit to the class. Three-star cornerback Marquis Alston committed with Wake in the last week and signed with Dave Clawson on Wednesday to wrap up the Demon Deacons’ recruiting haul.

East Carolina: The Pirates added three-star defensive end Dorian Hardy, who committed and signed on the same day. The former Penn State commit had also taken an official visit to Baylor.

ECU also added “blue shirt” commitments from two players — running back Tay Williams and tackle Noah Henderson — meaning they’ll be given scholarships at a later date, when they become available.

Appalachian State: The Mountaineers announced early in the day that they didn’t expect to add anyone to their recruiting class on National Signing Day. That leaves three-star offensive tackle Ches Jackson in limbo. Jackson committed to App State in July but didn’t sign in December or February.

Charlotte: The 49ers added four players in February, including two JUCO transfers: Three-star defensive tackle Dantrell Barkley, from Kannapolis, arrives from Independence Community College after decommitting from South Carolina. Wide receiver Tyler Ringwood, who played for a year at the University of Buffalo, signed out of Erie Community College.

Charlotte also signed Georgia kicker Jonathan Cruz and Greensboro Page linebacker B.J. Turner, who was the Metro 4A Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.