Forty-five prospects from the state of North Carolina signed with BCS programs in the 2013 class.
Chris Register tallied 110 tackles, seven sacks and five forced fumbles as a junior.
The 2014 haul is taking shape as a fruitful one as well. Here’s a brief look at 24 prospects to watch in North Carolina this next class.
1. LB Chris Register, Greensboro Dudley – Clemson jumped out early by getting Register to its camp and offered last June. Alabama could be a threat if it offers. Otherwise, the Tar Heels stand the best chance of unseating the Tigers for the big middle linebacker.
2. SDE Kentavius Street, Greenville Rose -- Eastern North Carolina always seems to yield underheralded prospects because the minimal exposure. Well, Street appears to be the burgeoning exception and may well wind up the top defensive target in-state. Clemson, Virginia Tech and N.C. State are the early front-runners.
3. RB Elijah Hood, Charlotte Catholic – Frankly, Hood isn’t even the safest bet at running back for the Tarheel State. But his rare blend of size, power and acceleration to go with prolific production make him the more tantalizing option for the purpose of this listing. Notre Dame is in the driver’s seat unless distance becomes a factor, at which time UNC and Clemson become options. Also on a number of college boards as a linebacker.
4. DE Lorenzo Featherston, Greensboro Page – Given time to grow into his expansive frame, Featherston may possess more upside than anyone in-state this cycle. Yet there is also significant concern about his string of health issues, with a dislocated knee and torn meniscus in the playoffs ranking foremost among them. Which figures to be why he is sitting on offers from UNC, N.C. State, Clemson, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
5. LT Bentley Spain, Providence – South Carolina appears in the distant lead for the state’s unchallenged top offensive line prospect, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he ended his recruitment this spring after planned stops at UNC and Stanford.
6. RB Derrell Scott, Havelock – Scott is the state’s most well-rounded back, in this observer's estimation. He’s smooth and glides as a runner, likewise possesses a sprinter’s speed but also catches the ball superbly – making for a nice all-purpose value. All signs indicate he will follow close friend, former teammate and ’13 signee Pharoh Cooper to South Carolina.
7. QB Will Grier, Davidson Day – Grier may not have what folks think is the strongest arm and has faced weak high school competition. But he’s accurate, can make the majority of your intermediate and deep throws, processes schematic information quickly and exhibits the desired leadership intangibles at the position. He committed to Florida early over a heavy UNC push.
DeAndre Thompkins would like to play receiver in college, but his highest upside is arguably at corner.
8. WR Trevion Thompson, Durham Hillside – Thompson’s junior production took a precipitous dip, in as much because the Hornets had a lot more difficulty getting him the ball. Still, he is a sleek athlete who plays the ball well, and his sophomore film was dynamic. Appears to be giving UNC and N.C. State stronger consideration after initially leaning toward Clemson, Florida and Ohio State.
9. CB DeAndre Thompkins, Swansboro – Penn State is pursuing the versatile Thompkins as a receiver, while a number of suitors – UNC included – are saying athlete. With his relative height and length, here is believing Thompkins has the make-up to be the state’s supreme cornerback. If Thompkins doesn’t select the Nittany Lions, it wouldn’t surprise to see him end up in the SEC.
10. TE Avery Edwards, Ravenscroft – You won’t find Edwards touted by many as the top tight end in the state. But he is every bit of 6-5, can run and has made his name as a flexed receiver. The Tar Heels are off to a strong start, but N.C. State could be formidable.
11. WR Josh Cabrera, Northside – Street, Thompkins, Cabrera – yes, sentiment holds that there are more players in eastern N.C. this cycle than in recent history. Duke gave his first offer, ironically, before Cabrera transferred in from southern Georgia. Virginia Tech has also offered, while expect UNC and perhaps South Carolina and N.C. State to be factors.
12. WR Braxton Berrios, Leesville Road – Berrios typically draws comparisons to a prospect UNC had to reach to West Virginia to nab for the ’13 class, Ryan Switzer. South Carolina is the team to beat unless Miami exhibits stronger interest.
13. TE Jeb Blazevich, Charlotte Christian – Blazevich transformed himself from skinny receiver to bona fide tight end prospect in one offseason a year ago. Clemson and Georgia perhaps have the likeliest odds of landing the four-star target, who has Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Ole Miss in his top six.
14. ATH Johnathan Lloyd, Southern Alamance – Lloyd has been on the recruiting radar longer than anyone else in the state, having claimed offers since a superlative freshman season. Different schools have him on the board as a slot receiver, cornerback, athlete or quarterback. Ohio State and Notre Dame stand as the top out-of-state challengers.
15. RT/G Will Richardson, Burlington Cummings – A few name offers have trickled in over the course of the months, but when Florida State offered last Wednesday, folks began taking notice. Richardson has shed nearly 40 pounds while reshaping his body. N.C. State probably has the edge, but don’t discount Duke, FSU or Virginia.
Florida State and N.C. State offered Burlington Cummings offensive lineman Will Richardson on consecutive days last week.
16. LB Cayson Collins, Berry Academy – N.C. State’s prior staff extended Collins’ first offer last fall, and UNC recently made its move.
17. DT Lamont Gaillard, Pine Forest – Gaillard might be the best prospect in the state that few know about. The classic run-stopper is scheduled to attend UNC’s junior day next week.
18. S Jeff Gibson, Gray’s Creek – Gibson is built more like a tall receiver than safety. But schools like his nose for striking people and expect he will somewhat fill out. Clemson and N.C. State hold the edge over UNC.
19. DE Robert Dinkins, Olympic – Dinkins – who profiles as an undersized end – pledged UNC last summer and stuck with it amid a strong push from Clemson.
20. DE B.J. Hill, West Stanly – East Carolina extended Hill’s first offer last month, and UNC and N.C. State are keeping close tabs. Hill is a superb jumbo-athlete who played running back for the three games he wasn’t injured last season.
21. WR Jaylan Barbour, Monroe – Barbour is your standard slot receiver with speed whose only knock is height. South Carolina and UNC remain his top two candidates.
22. K Freeman Jones, Bunn – OK, so you won’t find a kicker weaving his way into any top state rankings. But Jones is believed to have distance himself from the pack in-state, and it stands to reason someone will extend a scholarship offer. UNC and N.C. State are in the strongest shape, all circumstances being equal.
23. WR Workpeh Kofa, Independence – Kofa is the latest in a long lineage of receiver prospects out of Independence. UNC has been tracking him, while N.C. State and ECU are also involved.
24. S Germaine Pratt, High Point Central – Tennessee is the latest school to reportedly offer Pratt, joining Virginia, UNC, Notre Dame and N.C. State.