North Carolina schools have a chance to assemble their most impressive in-state football recruiting classes since 2009, judging by the rankings given players by the internet recruiting site Scout.com.
North Carolina and N.C. State have commitments from four of the 11 in-state players that Scout.com has rated as four-star prospects, the second highest level. Two of the three uncommitted players have N.C. State or North Carolina on their lists.
In-state recruiting is headed in the right direction, said Michael Clark, who covers football recruiting in North Carolina for Scout.com. There seems to be stability among the coaches, and they have a lot of young assistants that are out selling their schools.
There are no players in North Carolina who are ranked five stars. The top two four-starplayers in North Carolina Davidson Day quarterback Will Grier (committed to Florida) and Fayetteville Pine Forest defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard (Georgia) are headed out of state.
But if North Carolina schools could land at least one of the uncommitted players Havelock runner Derrell Scott, Durham Hillside wide receiver Trevion Thompson and running back teammate Donte Thomas-Williams the in-state schools would have nearly half of the top 11.
Scott was believed to be down to Tennessee, N.C. State and South Carolina, but Florida made an offer this week and Scott plans a visit, according to Clark.
Thompsons list includes N.C. State, Clemson, West Virginia, Ohio State and North Carolina. Clark believes N.C. State and Clemson may have a slight edge.
Clark believes Thomas-Williams eventually will chose between N.C. State and West Virginia.
North Carolina schools have struggled to sign the top prospects in the state.
North Carolina has produced 14 prospects rated five stars since 2004. In-state schools signed four: Athens Drive tackle Rob Crisp (N.C. State, 2010), Jacksonville Northside defensive lineman Donte Paige-Moss (North Carolina, 2009), Jamestown Ragsdale running back Toney Baker (N.C. State, 2005) and Greensboro Dudley defensive lineman Demario Pressley (N.C. State, 2004).
The in-state schools have signed 31 of 71 four-star prospects during the same period.
The best year in the past 10 years for in-state schools signing the top prospects was in 2009 when North Carolina signed five of the seven four-star-or-higher players, and Duke got another.
But recruiting rankings are imperfect.
Duke and Wake Forest consistently have brought in classes that are ranked near the bottom of the ACC team rankings, but they are the only in-state schools to have played in the ACC championship game since the title game was established in 2005.
Wake Forest defeated Georgia Tech 9-6 in 2006 and Duke lost to Florida State 45-7 this season.
Clark said Dukes success this season didnt have a major impact on this years recruiting class, but he expects the Blue Devils to have a big impact in the class of 2015. Reggie Gallaspy of Southern Guilford, a four-star running back, recently listed Duke as his top choice.
When you are at North Carolina, N.C. State, East Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest, you have to sell your school to the top prospects, Clark said. Duke has something more to sell now.
Signing day: The start of the National Letter of Intent signing period is Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Players may make commitments at any time, but the commitments are not binding on the school or the player.
National letters are an agreement between a player to attend and a school to provide financial assistance.
Area commitments: Several area high school athletes made commitments or accepted scholarships recently:
Broughton boys cross country runner Asher Smith-Rose to William & Mary.
Cardinal Gibbons track distance runner Rachel Bartolomeo to N.C. State.
Cardinal Gibbons volleyball player Cheyenne Wood, the MVP in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A championships, to LSU.
Knightdale boys track athlete Kimani Hoffman to Appalachian State.
Leesville Road volleyball player Sarah Kelly to UNC-Wilmington.
Panther Creek football players: Justin Byers to Army, Terrance Lasater to Navy, Gregg Storey to Liberty and J.T. Wise to Navy.
Western Harnett boys track discus thrower Mateius Brown to Western Carolina.
J. Mike Blake contributed to this story