More of the best high school football players in the state of North Carolina will stay home this year.
Seventeen of the top 30 players ranked in the state, according to Rivals, will make their commitments official Wednesday on National Signing Day.
N.C. State leads the in-state contingent with nine of the top 30 recruits, North Carolina has five, Duke has two and Wake Forest has one. The total is almost double last years haul (nine) by the in-state Bowl Subdivision programs and the most since 2010.
More is better, but the progress is relative, said Mike Farrell, the national recruiting analyst for Rivals.
The state didnt get raided like it usually does, Farrell said, but six of the top 10 still left. Thats not great.
To Farrells point, Florida poached top quarterback Will Grier, from Davidson; Georgia got Charlotte Christian tight end Jeb Blazevich, and Miami grabbed Leesville Road receiver Braxton Berrios.
But UNC got the top in-state prospect, Charlotte Catholic running back Elijah Hood, to flip from Notre Dame. N.C. State landed the second-rated recruit in the state in Greenville Rose defensive end Kentavius Street.
Hood, who ran for 3,690 yards and 53 touchdowns as a senior, is the only five-star prospect in the state, according to Rivals rankings. Farrell said the in-state class isnt as strong as other recent ones, which might be one reason the SEC had its fewest number of top 30 recruits since 2010.
The SEC, led by Georgia and South Carolina, routinely has gotten the states best players. The Bulldogs authored the most inglorious chapter of out-of-state poaching when they scooped highly rated running backs Todd Gurley (Tarboro) and Keith Marshall (Raleigh) in 2012.
The top overall in-state player from each class in 2013, 12 and 11 all chose the SEC. In the four previous classes, the SEC signed 15 of the 40 top 10 recruits in the state. By comparison, only 11 stayed home.
Basketball rules in North Carolina, Farrell said. Sorry, it just does. Until one of those schools has a breakthrough nationally, the SEC will continue to come and get its share of top recruits.
Pack gets aggressive
Still, Farrell said, the Triangle programs are starting to make strides. UNC, heading into Larry Fedoras third season, has 23 commitments, and its class ranks 20th in the country, according to Rivals.
N.C. State, in coach Dave Doerens second season, has 30 commitments in the class, which ranks No. 27 nationally by Rivals, and Dukes 18-man class ranks No. 57, tied with Wake Forests.
The improvement by the Wolfpack, despite a 3-9 finish in Doerens first season, is noticeable, Farrell said. N.C. States 2013 class, which was a combination of Doeren and former coach Tom OBrien, ranked 47th and was preceded by a No. 53 ranking in 2012 and No. 87 in 2011.
They didnt have a good season, but theyre doing a good job recruiting, Farrell said. Theyre really good at what they do. Theyre aggressive and energetic.
That was the knock against OBriens group; they werent out there hustling.
Greenville Rose coach Dave Wojtecki said the N.C. State staff reached out to Street shortly after they were hired in January 2013. Street, a four-star prospect ranked 43rd nationally, chose the Wolfpack over the SECs Mississippi and appreciated Doerens extra effort.
(Doeren) was the only head coach that visited, Wojtecki said. That means a lot when the head coach takes time out to see a kid.
Cant get them all
Leesville coach Chad Smothers had a pretty good idea early in the recruiting process that Berrios, his star receiver, would leave the state. Berrios, the 10th-rated recruit in the state, has family in south Florida. The four-star receiver chose Miami over Oregon.
Youre going to have kids leave for different reasons, Smothers said. Theres a certain appeal to national programs and national rankings and playing in big stadiums.
But Smothers said the current group of Triangle coaches have a made a hard push to keep up. He even noted, like Oregon, UNC has gotten the attention of some players with their uniform varieties.
The in-state programs are really starting to mirror the national programs, Smothers said. The in-state programs are getting better, and they are serious about winning and are treating football like its second-to-none.