CHAPEL HILL — Throughout most of the day on Wednesday, the video scoreboard that looms over North Carolina's Kenan Stadium showed the same highlights over and over on a continuous loop.
It was National Signing Day, when college football programs celebrate their latest recruiting class, and that was the idea with the endless video montage - to celebrate and show off players who'd signed with UNC.
The Tar Heels welcomed a 23-man class that Rivals.com ranked the sixth-best in the ACC. Not too far away, at Duke, Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe lauded his team's 20-man recruiting class, which Rivals ranked eighth in the league.
And down the road a ways to the east, N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien welcomed a 22-man class that he described as "long, tall and athletic." Rivals ranked the Wolfpack's class the ninth-best in the ACC.
In addition to the middle-of-the-conference recruiting rankings that each of the three local schools received, their signing classes shared at least one other trait: None of the local recruiting classes were filled with all that many local players.
Keeping in-state talent in North Carolina has long been a challenge for the state's Division I-A schools. It seemed especially challenging during the latest recruiting season.
Among the 10 prospects that Rivals considered to be the best in North Carolina, only one, Greensboro's James Summers, signed a national letter of intent to play at a North Carolina school. Summers, the quarterback who led Page High to the 4AA state championship, will play at UNC.
"We tried to make some in-roads on the in-state kids and we didn't have as much success there as I expected to have," UNC coach Larry Fedora said.
Of the 23 players in Fedora's first class at UNC - one that he and his staff put together after about a month on the job - six are from North Carolina. The Wolfpack's 22-man class, meanwhile, includes eight in-state players. Cutcliffe's 20-man class is comprised in part of five North Carolina players.
Local talent lost
Both nationally and in the ACC, out-of-state schools built their recruiting classes with the help of some of the best prospects in North Carolina. Charlotte offensive lineman D.J. Humphries and Shelby defensive end Jonathan Bullard, the top two prospects in the state according to Rivals, both signed with Florida.
Tarboro's Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who starred at Millbrook, both signed with Georgia. They were ranked as the state's top two running backs. Clemson, which put together the third-best class in the ACC, according to Rivals, also signed two of the state's top-10 prospects, as did South Carolina.
"I don't think we'll be satisfied until we sign everybody in-state," O'Brien said.
"That's the goal ... Continue to go to bowl games, continue to win, to put ourselves in a position to challenge and to go to Charlotte [for ACC title game], and that will increase our chances to keep a lot of the kids home."
Rebuilding 'the fence'
Mike Farrell, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals who focuses on recruiting in the ACC, wasn't caught off guard by the talent exodus from North Carolina. He has seen it happen over and over again, though perhaps not to extent as it did on Wednesday.
"I think it's just that there hasn't been a strong and consistent program in the state for so long," Farrell said.
"You've had inconsistency with both of the big programs. It's up to North Carolina, especially, and N.C. State to keep these kids home." Among ACC schools, Florida State again finished with the consensus top class in the conference. ESPNU ranked the Seminoles' class as the second-best in the nation after Washington, D.C., defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, one of the top prospects in the country, announced his intention to sign with the Seminoles.
Miami, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Virginia rounded out the top five classes in the ACC, according to Rivals.
The news wasn't all bad for local schools on signing day. UNC landed South Carolina receiver Quinshad Davis, who was considered one of the top prospects in his state. Duke beat out UNC and several other in-state schools for three-star linebacker Keilin Rayner, a prospect whom Cutcliffe described as a "grown man."
It was the homegrown, though, who were missing on Wednesday.
"I know when Mack [Brown] was here, there was a fence around the borders," Fedora said. "And it was hard to get a kid out of the state of North Carolina ... My job is to put a product on the field that kids in the state get excited about. Where a kid realizes, hey, I can reach every dream and goal I have right here on that field."
High above that field, the highlight reel continued on the video board. It played on and on, well after dark, featuring 23 North Carolina-bound players - all but six of whom aren't from North Carolina.
Staff writers Chip Alexander and Edward G. Robinson III contributed to this report.