The decommitment of Kennesaw, Ga., 5-star quarterback Justin Fields from Penn State opened up the sweepstakes for one of America’s top signal-callers in the 2018 class.
North Carolina is one of many schools, including Georgia, Auburn and Florida, vying for Fields’ letter of intent.
Taking on SEC heavyweights in recruiting often doesn’t work out well for the Tar Heels. That may especially be the case with Fields living in the heart of SEC country.
Nonetheless, UNC signed nine prospects from Georgia in the 2016 and 2017 classes. The Heels have one pledge — defensive back Bryson Richardson of Buford — committed from the Peach State in the 2018 class.
Fields is an elite 5-star recruit who can go anywhere in the country.
One of the biggest feathers in UNC’s cap is Mitch Trubisky; the quarterback went No. 2 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. T.J. Yates was the program’s first former quarterback to start an NFL game. However, Trubisky has a chance to be the program’s first star at that level.
The UNC staff will be able to hype up Trubisky’s career — and his development in Chapel Hill under their watch — throughout his NFL career. Larry Fedora, Chris Kapilovic and other UNC staff members will let Fields know how they helped Trubisky progress during his time in Chapel Hill.
Graduate transfer Brandon Harris — formerly of LSU — will likely start behind center for UNC in 2017. However, he’ll graduate after the season, and there’s no clear hierarchy behind him. Fields could come to Chapel Hill and challenge from Day 1 for the starting job.
The Tar Heels have a tall order overtaking national powerhouses in this recruitment. But Fields has reciprocated some of the interest; he visited Chapel Hill last spring.
The Tar Heel coaches will seek to build on that early loyalty, as well as their recent successes with Trubisky, to get back in the game with one of America’s top quarterback prospects.