Wednesday is national signing day, which is perhaps the most overblown and over-hyped day in American sports. Don't misunderstand: recruiting is indeed the single most important factor that determines any college football team's success, or failure.
It's just that national signing day, with some exceptions, isn't best evaluated in the minutes and hours after prospects send in their paperwork. Instead, it usually takes years – at least two, sometimes three – to understand how good a signing class really was.
The exceptions are the classes at the very top. Year in and year out, it's obvious enough that Alabama and Clemson and others are putting together classes full of players who will help those teams compete for championships. And even then, those schools sometimes miss.
The margin of error grows wider, the uncertainty greater, the farther down the list of top-ranked classes. North Carolina in recent years has put together recruiting classes that have ranked around the top 30 nationally, according to 247sports.com.
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Even those classes have generated a fair amount of hype, and hope, among fans who anxiously await signing day. History tells us, though, that for every incoming prospect who becomes a contributor, or a star, there are others who fade into obscurity after national signing day.
Here's a look back at UNC's past three recruiting classes, and what happened to those prospects:
Half of the 26 players that UNC signed redshirted. Another two players – Kyree Campbell and James Pierre – never wound up on campus. Another, J.B. Copeland, is no longer playing due to concussions.
Of the 10 members of the class who arrived at UNC and played, defensive back Myles Dorn finished with the most significant contributions. He played in every game and finished with 32 tackles. Dorn could be a rising star on the Tar Heels' defense.
Two members of the class – Dorn and linebacker Dominque Ross – played in every game.
Jordon Brown, RB: played in five games, ran for 45 yards on five carries.
Logan Byrd, QB: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
Kyree Campbell, DT: did not qualify, went to prep school and is now at Florida.
Allen Cater, DE: played in six games, finished with five tackles.
J.B. Copeland, LB: junior college transfer no longer playing football due to concussions.
Nolan DeFranco, DE: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
Myles Dorn, DB: played in 13 games, finished with 32 tackles, one tackle for loss.
Marlon Dunlap, DT: played in seven games, finished with four tackles and .5 sacks.
Luke Elder, OL: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
D.J. Ford, DB: played in 10 games, finished with three tackles and a blocked kick.
Tomon Fox, DE: forced into starting role early but injuries limited him to two games.
Rontavius Groves, WR: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
Tyrone Hopper, LB: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
Roscoe Johnson, WR: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
Jay-Jay McCargo, OL: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
James Pierre, DB: signed with UNC, decommitted last spring and then signed with Syracuse.
Tyler Pritchett, OL: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
Patrice Rene, DB: played in 11 games, finished with 16 tackles, broke up two passes.
Dominique Ross, LB: played in 13 games, finished with 12 tackles and one sack.
Greg Ross, DB: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
K.J. Sails, DB: played in two games and finished with two tackles.
Jonathan Smith, LB: Injuries limited him to five games and one tackle.
Chazz Surratt, QB: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
Noah Turner, TE: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
Garrett Walston, TE: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
Myles Wolfolk, DB: sat out last season and has four years of eligibility remaining.
Those who played as freshman are now rising juniors. Among the 19 members of this class, only three – J.K. Britt, Jalen Dalton and Andre Smith – are now juniors. Fourteen members of this class redshirted; others are no longer on the team. This has been a class, so far, of unrealized potential.
Dalton at the time of his signing looked like the most important defensive player UNC had signed under coach Larry Fedora, but Dalton's two seasons have underwhelmed. Mike Hughes looked like he might become the best player in the class, but off-field trouble led to his dismissal.
Ty'Son Williams was a prized running back prospect when he signed with UNC. He transferred after one season, though, and his departure is a big part of the reason why the Tar Heels now lack proven experience at running back.
After two years, Smith has been the most productive member of this class. The class also included several up-and-coming offensive lineman: Tommy Hatton, William Sweet and Nick Polino to name a few of them. Nathan Elliott will compete for the starting quarterback position.
Jake Bargas, TE: rising sophomore played in 13 games last season, caught two passes.
Corey Bell Jr., CB: rising sophomore played in 13 games last season, made 16 tackles.
J.K. Britt, S: rising junior has played in 23 games, made 13 tackles.
Aaron Crawford, DT: rising sophomore is arguably UNC's best returning defensive tackle.
Nathan Elliott, QB: rising sophomore served as Mitch Trubisky's backup last year.
Jalen Dalton, DL: rising junior has yet to meet expectations as centerpiece of this class.
Tommy Hatton, OL: rising sophomore in line to take over as starting center.
Charlie Heck, OL: rising sophomore in line for a starting position.
Mike Hughes, LB: was among best players in class, but dismissed from team for disciplinary reasons.
Juval Mollette, WR: rising sophomore has yet to catch a college pass.
Nick Polino, OL: rising sophomore is in line for a starting position.
Anthony Ratliff-Williams, WR: rising sophomore caught three passes for 21 yards last season.
Andre Smith, LB: rising junior finished was UNC's second-leading tackler last year, with 113.
Jason Strowbridge, DE: rising sophomore played in nine games, had two sacks last year.
Jonathon Sutton, LB: rising sophomore has yet to play in his first college game.
William Sweet, OL: rising sophomore will compete for starting position next season.
Carl Tucker, TE: rising sophomore caught nine passes for 130 yards last season.
Mason Veal, OT: rising sophomore enrolled early, should see role increase next season.
Ty'Son Williams, RB: transferred to South Carolina, leaving UNC with thinner RB depth.
Those who played as freshman are now rising seniors at UNC. That group includes Austin Proehl, the team's leading returning receiver, M.J. Stewart, arguably the best returning defensive player and Bentley Spain, the top returning offensive lineman.
It includes linebacker Cayson Collins and defensive linemen Malik Carney and Jeremiah Clarke, all of whom are expected to be part of the core of the Tar Heels defense next season. This class also included Elijah Hood, one of the most talented running backs to ever play at UNC. He's entering the NFL draft.
More than half of the class, though, has never contributed on the field in any significant way. Cameron Albright and Josh Allen never played in a game at UNC before winding up elsewhere.
Josh Cabrera and Devin Perry are two receivers with a combined two college catches. Tyrell Tomlin was ruled academically ineligible. Caleb Henderson, a once-heralded quarterback prospect, lost the backup job last summer and transferred. Allen Artis is suspended indefinitely amid an accusation of rape.
Cameron Albright, DB: never played in a game at UNC and took a medical hardship.
Josh Allen, OL: did not qualify and later signed with Arkansas, where he was dismissed from team.
Allen Artis, DB: played in 25 games first two years, indefinitely suspended amid accusation of rape.
Ayden Bonilla, DB: two years of eligibility left after playing in 24 games past two seasons.
Josh Cabrera, WR: two years of eligibility remaining; has caught one pass in past two seasons.
Malik Carney, DE: two years of eligibility remaining; had 47 tackles, 5.5 sacks last season.
Jeremiah Clarke, DL: two years of eligibility remaining; had 42 tackles, 5 sacks last season.
Jared Cohen, OL: left team last fall, transferred to Virginia but then quit playing football.
Cayson Collins, LB: rising senior finished with 60 tackles, four for loss, last season.
Avery Edwards, TE: charged with felony larceny before arriving at UNC, signed with Maryland.
Brandon Fritts, TE: rising junior caught six passes for 59 yards last season.
Caleb Henderson, QB: transferred to Maryland after losing backup quarterback job last season.
Elijah Hood, RB: entering NFL draft; his 2015 season among best in school history for UNC RB.
Freeman Jones, PK: rising junior in line to take over starting place-kicking duties.
Devin Perry, WR: rising junior has caught one pass during his time at UNC.
Tyler Powell, DL: rising senior had 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season.
Austin Proehl, WR: rising senior is UNC's leading returning receiver with 597 yards last season.
Caleb Samuel, OL: played in three games in 2015, received medical hardship.
Bentley Spain, OL: rising senior is UNC's best returning offensive lineman.
M.J. Stewart, CB: rising senior has six career interceptions, is UNC's top returning defensive back.
Tyrell Tomlin, LB: ruled academically ineligible in 2015, never returned to school.