Larry Fedora is the 35th head coach in North Carolina football history, and he got off on the right foot during season No. 1 in Chapel Hill, as the Tar Heels went 8-4 overall and tied for the best record in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division.
Larry Fedora went 8-4 in his first season at UNC. Before that, he was 34-19 at Southern Miss.
What is Fedora's vision for the program?
How does he sell UNC to prospects?
And, how vital does he think it is to keep the top players from leaving the state?
In this edition of Talkin' Recruiting with 247Sports, Fedora answers those questions and more.
247SPORTS - What has been the single greatest challenge for you and your staff on the recruiting trail since you arrived at UNC?
FEDORA - Well, I would say when we first got here, it was just trying to overcome the cloud of the NCAA, and the problems that came up beforehand. But since then, that's not been a problem. From there, I would say trying to build relationships with the high school coaches in the state of North Carolina as quickly as possible.
247SPORTS - Why is the state of North Carolina so important to your program, and how do you keep other programs from coming in and taking the top talent away?
FEDORA - Why it's so important is because we've got some great players here in the state of North Carolina. And we are the University of North Carolina. If we're going to have the success we want to have in this program, we're going to need to do it with players from the state of North Carolina. That's going to be the basis. How do you do that? It's a process.
It doesn't just happen overnight. It's just like anything else. It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of relationships to build. And we've got to have the success on the field, to be able to show kids they can get a world-class education and play at the highest level, win championships and they can reach every dream they have."
247SPORTS - So much has been made about the success of the SEC, both on the field and in terms of putting players in the NFL. As a coach of a prominent ACC program, how do you combat that?
FEDORA - For one, you've got to make sure the chatter they're hearing --- they've got to hear the positive things that you have to offer. You can't really worry about what everybody else is saying as much as making sure they're getting the correct information about your school. And if you do that -- we have so many great things to offer at the University of North Carolina, we're going to match up with everyone.
For Larry Fedora, the view at work every day in Chapel Hill is pretty good.
But the University of North Carolina is not for everyone. We're looking for those 24, 25 special kids -- or in this case, 20 this year -- the 20 special kids that want to be in this program, and understand the longterm effects and benefits of receiving a degree and playing football at University of North Carolina.
247SPORTS - You've always been thought of as being a QB guy. If you could, briefly explain the process that goes into determining who is worthy of an offer at that position?
FEDORA - We're a little bit different than a lot of people. We're very slow on the quarterbacks. It's very important that the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Blake Anderson, and myself, both see the film on the young man. One of us has got to see him in person throwing. We would like to have worked with him in camp. And at that point, that's when we put an offer out there.
We're not going to just throw offers out like a lot of schools are doing. If that means we lose out on a kid because of it, then we will. But we've had success doing it this way with quarterbacks in the past and we're going to continue to do it that way.
247SPORTS - When you were a younger coach, who were some of the guys you worked with that you learned the most from when it came to recruiting?
FEDORA - I'd say Ron Zook. He was a guy who was just so passionate about it, and had so much energy. He was 100 miles an hour 24/7 and 365. I mean, he was just very passionate about recruiting, and I think I learned a lot from him.
247SPORTS -As a program, what do you believe is the single greatest selling point?
FEDORA - Just one? Man, it's hard to put it all in one. Okay, I'll give you one statement. There are very few schools in the country where you can get a world-class education and compete at the highest level in the sport of football and we're one of those schools.
247SPORTS - As a recruiter, what do you think are your best traits?
FEDORA - That's not me. For me to talk about myself, that's just not me. You'd have to ask somebody else that question. But I think I'm very passionate about the game and everything I do. I believe in passion and enthusiasm and energy. Those are all trademarks I think of who I am.
247SPORTS -When you look back on your own past recruiting efforts, how much do you analyze what you could have done differently?
FEDORA - I think you do that all the time. With every aspect of the program, we're always evaluating. Whether we get a kid or don't, we're evaluating why we think that happened. What were the reasons we got him? Will that work with someone else? Can we use the same concepts with somebody else? Or if we didn't get a kid, did we screw that up? What happened?
You are always evaluating yourself and your program. I think recruiting is the most evolving aspect of college football there is. And so, you have to stay on top of it every single day or you'll fall behind.
Fedora says passion is one of his trademarks.
247SPORTS - Looking back, who is the one recruit that got away that you sometimes catch yourself thinking about?
FEDORA - There's a lot of them [laughing]. At least one every year, you know! You know what, I'm going to be honest with you, and this is telling you the way it is. When recruiting is over with, and we didn't get a guy, I totally forget that guy because there's an old saying -- "You don't worry about the ones that get away, you worry about the ones you got because you're going to have them the next four years. And you may play that one that got away once a year."
I think I've done a pretty good job of that. I just cut it off, and don't ever worry about it from that point on. That's one thing I guess I can pride myself on. I don't let those things beat me up.
247SPORTS - Okay, now the flip side. I'm sure there was a kid that nobody gave you a shot to get, but you got him. Give me one guy you're comfortable boasting about.
FEDORA - I would say my first year at Southern Miss, there was [receiver] DeAndre Brown. He was a five-star kid down on the coast of Mississippi. We got in there in December, and he's not even on the board. That would probably be the one that stands out the most.
247SPORTS - You've said a few times, "We're not there, but we're getting there." For North Carolina, just in terms of recruiting, what is the next step for the program?
FEDORA - Well, I think we have to continue doing what we're doing. It's a process. And we have to continue building those relationships, and to make sure the high school coaches have access to everything they need here at the University of North Carolina -- and that we're open to them and do things in a first-class manner in recruiting, and we're honest with kids and sell our program.
If we keep doing that, eventually things will change and perceptions will change. And we will get better and better each year.