Larry Fedora and his staff are in the early stages of constructing their 2017 recruiting class, and after holding a junior day over the weekend, they added another key piece to that group.
Consensus 4-star defensive end Jake Lawler became the latest player to commit to UNC. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native announced the news by sharing a video on social media:
— Jake Lawler (@Jakelawler42) January 31, 2016
A 6-3, 225-pound prospect, Lawler claimed offers from several ACC programs, including Duke, NC State, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. He was also pursued by Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and others.
Individually, Lawler is a significant pickup for a UNC program looking to upgrade its defensive line. His commitment also adds to a hot start for the Tar Heels in the 2017 cycle.
According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, all four of the program’s junior commitments are rated higher than the team’s highest-rated pledge in the 2016 class. Of the 2017 group, Lawler is the third top-five prospect in the state of North Carolina to pick UNC, which is the only school to land a top-10 junior so far.
Since arriving in Chapel Hill before the 2012 season, Fedora has never signed more than two prospects ranked in the state’s top five.
As the Heels’ only defensive commitment in his class, Lawler is ranked the No. 185 overall junior in the country on the 247Sports composite. He joins offensive lineman Jonah Melton (No. 114) of Mebane, North Carolina, wide receiver Tyler Smith (No. 211) of Powder Springs, Georgia, and wide receiver J.T. Cauthen (No. 246) of Waxhaw, North Carolina.
With the four commitments, UNC’s 2017 class holds an early ranking of No. 12 in the country by 247Sports.