UNC recruits unfazed by NCAA punishment

tstevens@newsobserver.com March 12, 2012 

University of North Carolina football commitment Jordan Fieulleteau said the penalties handed out Monday by the NCAA for seven major violations has no effect on his decision to commit to the Tar Heels.

“It doesn’t effect me at all,” the Raleigh Wakefield High junior wide receiver said. “I wanted to go to the University of North Carolina, and this doesn’t change that at all.”

North Carolina faces a one-year ban from postseason play, the loss of 15 scholarships over the next three academic years and three years of probation, in addition to a previously imposed $50,000 fine and the vacating of all 16 wins from the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

None of the sanctions, other than the loss of scholarships, will have much impact on North Carolina’s Class of 2013 commitments – Fieulleteau, offensive tackle R.J. Prince of Albemarle, Durham Hillside runner Khris Francis and cornerback teammate Korrin Wiggins.

All have made verbal commitments to new North Carolina coach Larry Fedora. The juniors are not officially tied to the school and can withdraw their commitments. The school is also not bound to the players.

The players can sign binding national letters of intent in February 2013.

“None of these penalties will effect me,” Fieulleteau said. “I’m glad we know what the NCAA is going to do. I’ve been wondering about it.”

When Francis and Wiggins committed, Hillside coach Antonio King said both players knew about possible penalties, but both still wanted to go to North Carolina.

Durham Jordan senior Phillip Williamson said in February that going to North Carolina was his childhood dream. He knew about the possible penalties but said North Carolina remained his dream.

“I’ve wanted to be a Tar Heel since I was little,” Williamson said. “When the Carolina coaches saw me and told my coaches that they wanted to sign me, I knew I wanted to go there. I remember watching Carolina beat Miami by a field goal years ago (31-28 in 2004). That day, I became a Carolina fan.”

Mike Farrell, the national recruiting analyst for rivals.com, said the completion of the investigation should help North Carolina’s recruiting.

“They can move forward now,” Farrell said. “There is no more guessing. This is going to happen. You can lay it all out. The loss of scholarships means that Carolina will have to be a little more selective, but that can be flattering to a recruit. You say, ‘We have a limited number of scholarships, but we think you are so good that we’re offering you.’ ”

Scott Kennedy, the national football recruiting analyst for scout.com, said the reduction in scholarships is manageable.

“With a cap of 85 scholarships per year, signing 20 a year won’t have any effect at all,” he said. “UNC will be able to manage those sanctions as if they didn’t even exist.”

Another football recruiting analyst, ESPN’s Jamie Newberg, also said that North Carolina’s recruiting will benefit from closure of the case, with a caveat.

“Now that it’s done and there is closure, that’s going to help them out,” Newberg said. “It’s all out on the table. Here’s what we have to deal with. …Having said that, now they are going to have to compete with the stigma of being a program on probation, and all that other stuff.

“It’s good and it’s bad. Obviously it’s pretty severe. But that staff’s going to work hard, and they are going to recruit well despite the obstacles they have in front of them.”

Staff writer Edward Robinson contributed to this report.

Stevens: 919-829-8910

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