North Carolina head coach Butch Davis visited Washington (D.C.) Ballou defensive tackle Marvin Austin last week and got the nation's No. 2 player interested in the Heels. UNC was in his school again Wednesday as well and the Tarheels are becoming a factor in this race.
"Coach Thigpen was here from UNC and he just repeated some of the same things I spoke to coach Davis about," said the 6-foot-3, 292-pounder. "He talked about how Butch went to Miami and brought the program from the bottom to the top and he plans on doing the same at UNC."
Is Austin buying in to the pitch?
"Yes sir, coach Davis' record speaks for itself, the school has very good academics and I'm going to check it out," he said. "I'm taking an unofficial visit there on Jan. 12."
Austin will follow that visit with an official to Florida State and possibly an official visit to Miami on Jan. 26.
"Coach Shannon is a great defensive coach and with him staying at Miami it helps them," he said. "I've always been interested in Miami and with coach Shannon there I know they'll be good."
Austin has already been on official visits to Illinois, Tennessee and Southern Cal and was supposed to take an official to Maryland last week but that got postponed.
"I'm not sure if I'll get back to Maryland," he said. "I've been there a lot and I know what Maryland is about. They're still in there but a little behind the rest.
"I've eliminated Illinois and I've told coach Locksley that. I thanked him for recruiting me but that's just not a fit for me. He's still trying though."
So is there a still a leader?
"Yes, Southern Cal still leads for me," he said. "Florida State is right up there too and North Carolina and Tennessee are in the mix. I'm not sure about Miami yet, I'll have to talk with coach Shannon. And Maryland is also in there as well."
As for a timetable for a decision, Austin knows he'll wait until the end.
"My last visit is going to be in late January so I'll decide on Signing Day," he said. "Right now a lot of coaches are coming to see me and my mom and it's a bit overwhelming but also nice. All the schools I've mentioned have had assistant coaches come through here and the head coaches are all saying they'll be in after the dead period. I'm looking forward to a little break."