Top 10 North Carolina recruits in Rivals.com history
North Carolina running back Zamir White checks in very high at No. 5 in the first numerical release of the 2018 Rivals100. However, with so many rankings cycles left in the 2018 class, putting him on a historical list is a bit premature, so we will leave him off for now.
Here are the top 10 prospects from the Tar Heel State in Rivals.com history, and you can see where White would fall -- he's even with one great NFL player and right ahead of a recent draft pick. Interestingly, seven of the 10 players on this list left the state, with two players landing with NC State and only one at North Carolina.
The skinny: Lawrence held the No. 1 ranking for a good portion of 2015, but finished at No. 2. What began as an in-state recruiting battle between North Carolina and North Carolina State turned into a national hunt for Lawrence. After Florida jumped out into the lead, it was Clemson which became the leader as Lawrence took official visits to the Tigers, Gators, Ohio State, N.C. State and Alabama. Despite a late push from N.C. State to try and keep him home, Lawrence committed to Clemson. Lawrence has impressed as an early enrollee with the Tigers, so early playing time is likely for the talented defensive tackle.
Farrell’s take: Lawrence was a massive high school prospect, tall and big, who had exceptional pass-rushing moves and worked off contact extremely well. He had light feet, always had a counter for whatever an offensive lineman threw at him and was well coached and schooled in the nuances of the position. I think he has the potential to be a great one at the next level.
The skinny: Given his plans to enroll for the spring semester, Humphries took an aggressive approach with visits, which led him to name a top five of Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, South Carolina and Clemson in early July. Soon after trimming his list he surprised some by suddenly ending his process with a commitment to the Gators. Humphries experienced mixed levels of success during his three seasons in Gainesville. Despite his lack of consistent production he still was selected with the No. 24 overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2015. After not seeing any playing time as a rookie, the right tackle position is currently open with Humphries being considered a major contender.
Farrell’s take: Humphries was a very young prospect for his grade in high school and has off-the-charts athleticism and upside. His footwork was amazing, his ability to recover and re-set was astonishing and he had a great frame to fill out. He looked like a big, athletic tight end playing tackle. While he had to work a bit on his aggressiveness, there was no question he would succeed at the next level and be a potential first rounder. Injuries hurt him a bit and he’s still finding his way in the NFL, but he’s one of the most athletic tackles I’ve ever scouted.
The skinny: Allen was originally focused on Alabama, Oregon and Clemson, so a commitment to the Crimson Tide in November did not come as a surprise. However, the possibility of playing with his brother, Zach Maynard, who was in the process of transferring out of Buffalo, turned everything upside down. After both took an official visit to Cal in the days leading up to National Signing Day, Allen officially flipped his commitment to the Golden Bears. Despite setting receiving records at Cal, Allen fell into the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft due to concerns regarding a knee injury. San Diego took a chance on Allen and has been rewarded, as he has become one of the more consistent receivers in the league over the last three seasons.
Farrell’s take: We saw Allen as a safety at the next level and initially so did most schools. But when he made it clear he wanted to play wide receiver, even defensive back guru Nick Saban was fine with that. However, Allen was destined to play with his brother and Cal became the place. I had my doubts regarding how special he could be at wide receiver especially considering how fluid and effortless he made playing safety look, but he proved to be an amazing wide out as well. Everything he did was so easy in high school, from picking off or catching passes to running down plays, that he remains one of the most fluid athletes I’ve seen.
The skinny: After taking several summer visits after his junior season, Florida, Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee and Nebraska began to separate themselves from the pack. Official visits followed to Florida, Clemson, South Carolina and Nebraska, and after trimming the Huskers a week before National Signing Day, Bullard committed to the Gators. Bullard definitely flashed signs of brilliance during his time in Gainesville, but never seemed to consistently put it all together until his final year. However, his potential was enough to get drafted in the third round by Chicago in the 2016 NFL Draft, where he will be battling for playing time along the defensive line.
Farrell’s take: I remember the first time I saw Bullard in person and I immediately felt he was a five-star prospect. Between his impressive film, his basketball feet and build and superior athletic ability, he was a special prospect. But the best part was that he was still learning how to play the game and his ceiling was so high. Bullard had zero idea at the time how good he could be and was stunned when informed he was a five-star prospect. He took that work ethic and attitude with him to college and now to the NFL. I think the Bears got an absolute steal here, as this is a tackle with defensive end agility.
The skinny: Despite being considered a lean to N.C. State from the start, Pressley did also take official visits to North Carolina, Florida State, Oklahoma State and Virginia. When it finally came time to make a decision on National Signing Day, Pressley was down to the Wolfpack, Tar Heels and Seminoles and decided to stay close to home with N.C. State. Pressley’s final two seasons in Raleigh were his best, which led to him being selected in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by New Orleans. In his one full season with the Saints, which culminated in the Super Bowl, Pressley totaled 20 tackles. He then saw time with Houston, Carolina, Denver, Chicago and Indianapolis before seeing his playing days come to an end prior to the start of the 2012 season.
Farrell’s take: Pressley was a superior athlete for his size with plenty of room to grow as a high school prospect, but he took a while to develop and never reached his full potential. He does have a Super Bowl ring, however, so all was not lost, but I expected so much more from his career in college and beyond because of how quick and explosive he was off the snap in high school.
The skinny: After Florida offered, the Gators were considered the favorite for the rest of Spikes’ recruiting process. Official visits were taken to Gainesville, Virginia Tech and Alabama, which led to his commitment to Florida during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Spikes had a very productive career with the Gators, being named First Team All-SEC three times and First Team All-American twice, while helping the Gators to two National Championships. Selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by New England, Spikes had four productive seasons with the Patriots before he made a move to Buffalo. After one season with the Bills he re-signed with New England, but his reunion proved to be a short one. After a police investigation resulting from his damaged car and a possible hit-and-run, Spikes was released in June of 2015. He recently re-signed with the Bills.
Farrell’s take: Spikes was a monster in high school, a tall, long and massive inside backer who thumped everyone when he was coming downhill. He covered a lot of ground, arrived at the football with anger and was deceptively good at cutting down passing angles with his ability in pass coverage. It’s no surprise he was a college star and I am a bit stunned he wasn’t more of an NFL standout. He was one of the most physically impressive linebackers I’ve seen in high school
The skinny: Crisp gave his commitment to N.C. State 10 months prior to National Signing Day and never wavered despite holding almost 40 offers. His time in Raleigh was marred with injuries and unfulfilled potential. All of this led him to go undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft. He signed a free agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals, where his season ended before it truly began as he was placed on the practice squad-injured reserve list in September. He did sign a futures contract with the Cardinals in January, so he will be battling for a roster spot during this upcoming training camp.
Farrell’s take: This is a puzzling one, and I guess the injuries speak to it, but Crisp had it all. He was tall, long and had very good feet and he was going to a coach in Tom O’Brien who made offensive linemen great. I remember watching him hold his own against beasts like Ronald Powell, Sharif Floyd and Owamagbe Odighizuwa in the 100-degree heat in Deland, Fla. at the Top Gun event and feeling that he had more of an edge to him than I expected. It was at that point I was convinced he had the work ethic and toughness to be a star, backing up his high school film. I guess it never materialized for him, which is a shame, because he was such a high-class and high-character kid.
The skinny: Moss committed to North Carolina a year prior to National Signing Day, and while he did not close the door to other schools immediately, he stayed firm with his commitment and signed with the Tar Heels. Moss showed his potential during a promising sophomore season (going by Donte Paige-Moss by that point) after two off-field issues as a freshman, but a disappointing junior season ended with a torn ACL in the Independence Bowl. Despite the injury, he still declared for the NFL Draft early. After not being drafted largely because of work ethic concerns and some idiotic tweets from Shreveport at the Independence Bowl, he has had stops in the United Football League, Canadian Football League and Arena Football League, where he is currently playing with the Orlando Predators.
Farrell’s take: This was an amazing athlete with a me-first attitude and very little common sense, and it’s a shame because when I think of the word freak defensive end, Moss is up there with guys like Clowney and others. He could have been an amazing hybrid prospect and had the talent to be a high first rounder if he could have kept his head on straight. He had issues with teammates and off-field stuff from the start of his UNC career, never became a consistent player, had that knee injury and then sent those tweets. Game over.
The skinny: After originally committing to N.C. State, Culliver re-opened his process and had a top four of Florida, Florida State, Clemson and South Carolina after his senior season. The Gamecocks and Gators emerged as finalists in January, and after both received an official visit Culliver committed to South Carolina. After making the move to the defensive secondary, first at safety and then cornerback, Culliver shined with the Gamecocks. He was selected in the third round by San Francisco in the 2011 NFL Draft. After four productive seasons with the 49ers, despite dealing with a torn ACL, Culliver signed with Washington as a free agent in 2015. His one season with the Redskins ended with a torn ACL and MCL, which ultimately led to his release in May.
Farrell’s take: This was an argument I lost, as we had Culliver as a defensive player but switched him to wide receiver late in the process. Part of that was because of his elite speed, but the main reason was because that’s the position he wanted to play in college and schools, especially Florida and South Carolina, told him he could. But I never saw an elite wide receiver here. What I did see was an elite defensive back with the speed to run with anyone and good size as well as a defender’s attitude. So it was zero surprise to me that he had his success as a defensive back in college and the NFL.
10. Brandon Jeffries
The skinny: With proximity to home being a big priority for Jefferies, he trimmed his list down to Tennessee, North Carolina, N.C. State, Georgia and South Carolina. Each of these five schools received an official visit and on National Signing Day he committed to Tennessee, the school he had been favoring for several months. After only playing in one game during his first two seasons, Jefferies decided to transfer out of Tennessee. He enrolled at a junior college with hopes of attending North Carolina State, however he never became academically eligible to play with the Wolfpack. He finished off his collegiate career at Division II Newberry in 2005, but went undrafted and never played in the NFL.
Farrell’s take: Jefferies was one of those very early evaluations that never got a chance to show what he could do. Academic issues killed his career at Tennessee, although based on what I remember he wasn’t going to be able to impact much anyhow because of limited ability to compete at such a high level, and it also killed a chance to head to N.C. State. This was a high ranking for a 265-pound guard, at least to me, but in the days of few in-person evals and relying on film Jefferies was a huge name who was more hype than substance.