The North Carolina Tar Heels need help at defensive end and made that very clear to Walfdorf (Md.) Westlake rush end Darius Powell. However, it was UNC's great academic reputation and the feel he got while on campus that led to his early decision to commit to the Tar Heels.
"I really like it there," said the 6-foot-3, 198-pounder. "I've been there three times now and was with my coach on Thursday and just decided to commit. I knew North Carolina was the place for me because academics are most important to me and I know a degree from there holds a lot of weight."
Powell, who chose UNC over offers from Syracuse, Michigan State, Illinois and others, isn't adverse to early playing time as well.
"They need help at defensive end, they made that clear," he said. "I really like coach Thigpen and the rest of the staff and they made me feel comfortable. The campus is also beautiful, you can't ask for more."
Powell's parents are also happy with the decision.
"They went with me a couple times and they want me to get a good education as well," he said. "They gave me their blessing early, but I wanted to go back one more time and make sure. The feeling was still there."
Powell also has family near Chapel Hill. The No. 12-ranked player in the state of Maryland, Powell had 68 tackles as a junior with 10 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. He knows he needs to bulk up a bit, but that shouldn't be a problem.
"I have the frame to add weight and I expect to get bigger and stronger this year," he said. "I also know that when I get there the strength program will get me bigger and much stronger."
Powell didn't have an offer from home state power Maryland, but he said it wouldn't have mattered.
"Even if they offered now, it would make no difference," he said. "UNC's academics were the lure for me and then everything else fell in place. It's the right place for me."