National signing day still important, especially for newly-hired coaches

While most incoming football recruits signed in December, Wednesday's traditional signing day helped new coaches at UNC, ECU, App State and Charlotte play catchup

Mack Brown came out of retirement to return to Chapel Hill, (Robert Willett / The News & Observer via AP)

  National signing day isn’t the big deal it once was, thanks to the addition of a new early signing period in December.

  But it still holds plenty of importance to the young players making their college decisions and the teams they’re joining — especially those that recently hired new coaches. For them, Wednesday’s traditional signing date was an opportunity to play catchup after getting off to late stars in the recruiting cycle.

  There are four such coaches in the state this year. None did a better job of upgrading their team’s incoming talent than new/old North Carolina coach Mack Brown.

  The Tar Heels were ranked No. 69 when Brown replaced Larry Fedora in early December and dropped as low as No. 82 after the loss or six commitments. But Brown and his staff rallied and with the addition of five new players — including four star linebacker Eugene Asante and four-star defensive lineman Wisdom Asaboro — UNC’s class is now is up to No. 32 nationally and No. 4 in the ACC, according to

  Here are the lists of all the players signed Wednesday by Brown, fellow newcomers Mike Houston of East Carolina, Eliah Drinkwitz of Appalachian State and Charlotte’s Will Healy, along with holdovers Dave Doeren of NC State and Dave Clawson of Wake Forest:


  Brown addressed an immediate need by adding two defensive linemen that could potentially play right away and a highly-rated linebacker flipped from Coastal Division rival Virginia Tech among the four players he added to the 18 he signed back in December. In addition to Asante, super sized Nigerian Asaboro and junior college transfer Raymond Vohasek, the Tar Heels also picked up help in the secondary and offensive line.

Don Chapman, DB, 5-11, 185, San Diego, Calif (Lincoln HS)

Ty Murray, OL, 6-3, 330, Carrolton, Ga. (Carrolton HS)

Raymond Vohasek, DL, 6-3, 280, McHenry, Ill. (College of Dupage)

Wisdom Asaboro, DL, 6-7, 280, Charlotte (Covenant Day)

Eugene Asante, LB, 6-1, 212, Chantilly, Va. (Westfield HS)


  There was a familiar name among the three players signed by the Wolfpack on Wednesday. Graduate transfer receiver Tabari Hines played his first three seasons at Wake Forest before spending an injury-shortened 2018 at Oregon.

  Hines is probably best remembered by State fans for catching eight passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns in the Deacons’ 30-24 win against the Wolfpack in 2017. Doeren also flipped running back Jordan Houston from Maryland and added speedy defensive back Cecil Powell to 19 freshmen he signed in December.

Tabari Hines, WR, 5-10, 175, Florence, S.C. (Oregon)

Jordan Houston, RB, 5-10, 190, Waldorf, Md (Flint Hill School)

Cecil Powell, DB, 6-1, 191, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Piper HS)


  Coach David Cutcliffe signed a full complement of 20 new signees in December.


  After signing 20 players during the early signing period, the Deacons only added one new member of their 2018 recruiting class Wednesday — consensus three-star defensive back Isaiah Essissima from Houston,

Isaiah Essissima, DB, 5-10, 185, Houston, Tex. (Fort Bend Hightower HS)


  Houston completed his first recruiting class for the Pirates by bolstering his defensive line with a pair three-star prospects. He also landed junior college tight end Zech Byrd, a former four-star recruit who will have three years of eligibility and will provide quarterback Holton Ahlers with a big target at 6-foot-7, 265 pounds. ECU signed 18 players in December.

Zech Byrd, TE, 6-7, 265, Millbrook, Ala. (Garden City CC)

Rick D’Abreu, DL, 6-2, 240, Chester, Va. (Thomas Dale HS)

Immanuel Hickman, DL, 6-3, 260, Chesterfield, Va. (Matoaca HS)


  Eliah Drinkwitz had the least time to assemble a class after being hired in December, so it’s understandable that his February haul was bigger than everyone else in the state. The Mountaineers gained nine new players on signing day to go along with the nine they inked during the early period. And there’s quality to go along with the quantity. The newest additions include dual-threat quarterback David Baldwin-Griffin from Compton, Calif., the highest-rated prospect in program history. Wide receiver Raykwon Anderson from Folkston, Ga., is the second-highest rated recruit.

Raykwon Anderson, WR, 5-9, 175, Folkston, Ga. (Charlton County HS)

David Baldwin-Griffin, QB, 6-4, 215, Compton, Calif. (IMG Academy)

KeSean Brown, OLB, 6-2, 210, Bamberg, S.C. (Bamberg-Ehrhardt HS)

Larry Dowdy, OL, 6-4, 285, Belmont (South Point HS)

Emmanuel Jenkins, DB, 6-2, 200, Canton, Ga. (Sequoyah HS)

Christian Johnstone, LS, 6-3, 240, Loganville, Ga. (Archer HS)

Craig McFarland, OL, 6-6, 275, Phoenix, Ariz. (Chaparral HS)

Milan Tucker, DB, 5-11, 165, Lehigh Acres, Fla., (Fort Myers HS)

Ben Williams, RB, 5-10, 185, Charlotte (Charlotte Christian)


  Healy also had a large group of February signees, adding 10 players to the nine he got in December. Highlighting the class are three FBS transfers — linebacker Brelin Faison-Walden from Penn State, defensive back Marquill Osborne from Tennessee and quarterback Brett Kean from South Florida.

Prince Bemah, LB, 6-1, 222, LB, Gastonia (Hunter Huss HS)

Jamel Brown, WR, 5-11, 192, Desert Pines, Nev. (Desert Pines HS)

Micaleous Elder, WR, 5-9, 165, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Blackman HS)

Brelin Faison-Walden, LB, 6-1, 207, Greensboro (Penn State)

Noah Henderson, WR, 6-1, 195, Nashville, Tenn. (Christ Presbyterian Academy)

Brett Kean, QB, 6-1, 221, Lakewood, Ohio (USF)

Marquill Osborne, DB, 5-11, 188, Cornelius (Tennessee)

Jaylan Williams, TE, 6-4, 220, Acworth, Ga., (Allatoona HS)