According to Sheldon Rankins, the Covington (Ga.) Eastside junior defensive end is a long way from picking a college. But on Thursday, the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder told Rivals.com a few schools "stand out."
"There are three," Rankins said. "North Carolina is one of them. They were the first to offer. Then, Louisville and Mississippi State."
Here's what he likes about each:
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North Carolina: "I went up there for a camp before the start of my junior season. I just liked the whole place and the whole coaching staff. It was a great atmosphere up there."
Louisville: "I followed [Cardinals head coach] Charlie Strong when he was at Florida. He had some great defenses and some great defensive players. When he made the move to Louisville, I knew he'd turn that program around and help Louisville win the Big East."
Mississippi State: "First, I love the SEC. It's my favorite conference. Second, I really like head coach Dan Mullen. I followed him while he was at Florida also. I felt really good to get that offer from them."
Besides those three programs, Rankins also has offers from Boston College, Florida Atlantic, North Carolina State and South Florida. The Wolfpack pulled the trigger Thursday, Rankins said.
"I would say South Florida [is recruiting him the hardest]," Rankins said. "They're keeping close contact with me."
To date, Rankins has taken two trips this year.
"So far, I've been to the University of Florida and Georgia," Rankins said. "Next, I'm going to North Carolina on the 26th [of March]. I'll be at South Florida for the first weekend in April."