Since returning to Chapel Hill for his second stint, head football coach Mack Brown has worked hard to improve the Tar Heels’ performance on the recruiting trail.
In his first three recruiting cycles, Brown reeled in some of the highest-rated recruits in program history, including five-star prospects Tony Grimes, Zach Rice and Travis Shaw. As North Carolina looks to finalize its next class, the Tar Heels await the college announcements of numerous recruits.
Here’s a look at some key prospects in the class of 2023 whose decisions could help UNC secure a fourth consecutive top-25 recruiting class.
Ranked the No. 2 prospect in the state of North Carolina according to 247Sports, Daevin Hobbs stands as one of the top uncommitted recruits left on UNC’s radar.
The 6-foot-4-inch four-star defensive lineman possesses the speed and versatility to excel as a defensive end at the collegiate level. Hobbs’ wide range of skills was on full display during his time at Jay M. Robinson High School, where he led the Bulldogs in sacks during his junior season while also playing on offense at tight end.
Hobbs’ athletic talents stretch beyond the gridiron. In 2022, Hobbs helped lead Robinson to an NCHSAA 2A state title in basketball. In the state championship game, he scored 16 points and snagged 17 rebounds to bring home the state championship’s MVP honors.
After initially setting his decision date for Aug. 1, Hobbs pushed back his announcement to an undetermined date. Some of the schools that made his final list include North Carolina, Alabama and Michigan.
With the recent commitment of defensive lineman Joel Starlings, the Tar Heels hope to secure another four-star player from Virginia in Kaveion Keys.
In his junior campaign, the fast-twitch linebacker led Varina High School to its first-ever Class 4A football state title with a 28-21 win over Broad Run last December. Keys takes snaps at a number of positions, serving as one of Varina’s top pass rushers while also occasionally lining up at wide receiver and running back.
Aided by his quick instincts, Keys plays the majority of his snaps as an edge rusher while occasionally dropping back into coverage to the outer portion of the field. With his speed and strength, Keys fills the demands of the “jack” position perfectly for Tar Heels — a new position created by assistant head coach of the defense Gene Chizik whose sole duty is to rush the quarterback.
Keys is set to announce his decision on Aug. 27. To date, the Richmond, Va. native has only taken official visits to North Carolina and Penn State, suggesting those two schools are the favorites to land him.
With his commitment set for Aug. 24, North Carolina is looking to land receiver Paul Billups to secure his third wideout commit for the class of 2023.
Hailing from Chesapeake, Va., Billups serves as the lead target for Western Branch High School. This past season, his play propelled the Bruins to a 10-3 season that ended with a playoff loss to eventual state champion, Oscar Smith.
Standing at 6 feet, 2 inches, Billups has been one of the Bruins’ top deep-ball threats and has frequently been able to open up the field for his team’s offense. Moreover, his rangy build and strong hands allow Billups to make contested catches look routine.
Like many top high school prospects, Billups plays both sides of the ball, also lining up at safety on defense.
With his commitment date quickly approaching, Billups’ recruitment is winding down. The three schools he will choose from are North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Michigan State.
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