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How NC State, Duke, UNC, ECU football recruiting went on signing day

NC State’s Doeren: ‘Why wouldn’t you want to come here?’

NC State head football coach Dave Doeren talks about how success on the football field and in the NFL has lead to success in recruiting during a signing day press conference Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018.
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NC State head football coach Dave Doeren talks about how success on the football field and in the NFL has lead to success in recruiting during a signing day press conference Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018.

High school football players around the country were signing their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, cementing their college decisions.

N.C. State, UNC, Duke and ECU coaches paid close attention to the fax machines as National Letters of Intent started rolling in as early as 7:05 Wednesday morning. In the second year of the early signing period, each school signed double-digit classes with Duke making the biggest jump from a year ago, adding 20 players to the roster during early signing period.

“You know it’s funny how everybody signs 25 around the country all the time,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. “Do the math. Four times 25 is 100. That’s all I’m going to say about that. We hope our people here are being successful.”

N.C. State’s highly anticipated class of 2019 had 19 players send in letters of intent to Dave Doeren. Of the 19 signed, 16 will enroll in January.

When Mack Brown returned to UNC last month, he talked about making sure the top players in North Carolina came to UNC. On Wednesday he signed eight players from the Tar Heel state.

“I think guys want to stay at home,” Brown said. “If you can find what you want at home, you’ll stay. Your parents can see you play. Your friends can see you play. Your high school coach can see you play. It’s our job to make sure that we have a product that’s the cool place to be and something they would like to be involved with.”

THE MACK BROWN EFFECT

The big news across the state today came from a pair of UNC signees who originally committed to other ACC schools. Sun Valley (Monroe, NC) quarterback Sam Howell, verbally committed to Florida State, but committed to the Tar Heels on national signing day, a move many saw coming when Brown and his staff took over, combined with former FSU offensive coordinator Walt Bell taking the head coaching job at UMASS.

Mack Brown talks about his first three weeks on the job as new head coach

At his signing day press conference Mack compared Howell, the No. 2 player in North Carolina and the No. 3 pro-style QB in the nation, to Baker Mayfield, the former Oklahoma QB, who was the No. 1 overall pick of the Cleveland Browns last year.

That was not the only UNC signee to flip ACC schools. Charlotte Country Day offensive lineman Triston Miller originally committed to Wake Forest, then N.C. State, before signing with the Tar Heels on Wednesday. Miller said the return on Brown played a big part in him choosing the Tar Heels.

QB Sam Howell of Sun Valley High School signed with UNC Wednesday on National Signing Day. The top 100 national recruit chose the Tar Heels over Florida State.

BIG HAUL FOR WOLFPACK

For the second straight season, N.C. State brought in most of its 2019 class during the early signing period. Dave Doeren’s 2019 class comes with high expectations.

The 2019 Wolfpack class is ranked in the top 25 nationally, and is ranked 3rd in the ACC. Their previous high ranking in the league was No. 6 in 2014. Doeren just got deeper in the trenches, signing eight offensive and defensive linemen (four on each side of the ball).

HEAD OF THE CLASS

Here are the headliners for each school:

UNC - Sam Howell. This one was a no brainer. Howell, a 4-star prospect according to 247Sports, immediately backs up the claim from Brown that he is going to go after the top talent in the state. Howell fits the bill, passing for 3,180 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior.

N.C. State - Savion Jackson. N.C. State produces NFL talent from its defensive line, and three or four years down the road, Jackson might be the next great Wolfpack player to play on Sunday’s. The 6-3, 260 pound defensive end will enroll early to get a head start on his N.C. State career.

DUKE - Tony Davis. Davis, a 6-2, 186 pound cornerback, is Duke’s only four-star prospect, and one of the few members of the 2019 class who will enroll in January. Davis, from Gastonia, committed to Duke early, reopened his commitment this summer, then committed to the Blue Devils again. Now all in, Davis will probably get a lot of early playing time in Durham.

ECU - Traveon Freshwater. The 6-2, 220 pound linebacker from Northeastern High School just led his team to the 2A state championship appearance, and should probably get used to playing on a college surface. Freshwater, the No. 30 player in the state, leaves Northeastern with 418 career tackles and 68 sacks.

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N.C. State

Shyheim Battle, DB, 6-2, 175, Rocky Mount, NC

C.J. Clark, DL, 6-3, 280, New London, NC

Terrell Dawkins, DL, 6-4, 240, Cox Mill, NC

Ikem Ekwonu, OL, 6-4, 298, Charlotte, NC

Ty Evans, QB, 6-2, 192, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Jalen Frazier, DB, 5-10, 175, Denver, NC

Jakeen Harris, DB, 5-11, 185, Savannah, Ga.

Joshua Harris, DL, 6-2, 320, Roxboro, NC

Bailey Hockman, QB, 6-2, 210, Powder Springs, Ga.

Savion Jackson, DL, 6-3, 260, Clayton, NC

Zonovan Knight, RB, 6-0, 190, Bailey, NC

Keyon Lesane, WR, 6-0, 185, Lumberton, NC

Zovon Lindsay, OL, 6-3, 295, Fayetteville, NC

Khalid Martin, DB, 6-2, 200, Tobaccoville, NC

Timothy McKay, OL, 6-3, 295, Raleigh, NC

Dylan McMahon, OL, 6-3, 290, Savannah, Ga.

Jaylon Scott, LB, 6-1, 230, Shelby, NC

Drake Thomas, LB, 6-1, 225, Wake Forest, NC

Chris Toudle, WR, 6-3, 215, Wilmington, NC

DUKE

Jalen Alexander, DB, 5-11, 165, Loganville, Ga.

Jalon Calhoun, WR, 5-11, 182, Greenville, SC

Ron Carr, OL, 6-4, 250, Solon, Ohio

DeWayne Carter, DL, 6-3, 290, Pickerington, Ohio

Jaylen Coleman, RB, 6-1, 195, Matthews, NC

Ahmad Craig, DL, 6-5, 250, Buford, Ga.

Tony Davis, DB, 6-2, 190, Gastonia, NC

John Gelotte, OL, 6-5, 290, Moore, SC

Charlie Ham, K, 6-1, 180, Atlanta, Ga.

Darrell Harding, Jr., WR, 6-4, 200, Winter Garden, Fla.

Isaiah Kemp, DB, 6-1, 180, Wilmington, NC

Jacob Monk, OL, 6-3, 299, Clayton, NC

R.J. Oben, DL, 6-4, 240, Montclair, NJ

Caleb Oppan, DL, 6-4, 220, Kennesaw, Ga.

Eli Pancol, WR, 6-3, 195, Pendleton, Ind.

Christian Rorie, DL, 6-6, 270, Raleigh, NC

Matt Smith, TE, 6-4, 220, Needham, Mass.

Sayyid Stevens, 6-2, 220, Midway, Ga.

Jordan Waters, DB, 6-1, 205, Lumberton, NC

Elijah Wroten, OL, 6-3, 310, Oreland, Pa.

UNC

Tomari Fox, DL, 6-3, 250, Lawrenceville, Ga.

Sam Howell, QB, 6-1, 225, Monroe, NC

Kamari Morales, TE, 6-3, 235, Buck Lake, Fla.

Emery Simmons, WR, 6-2, 190, Parkton, NC

Obi Egbuna, DB, 5-11, 180, Charlotte, NC

Drew Little, DS, 5-11, 225, Richfield, NC

Kevin Hester, Jr., DL, 6-5, 255, Kennesaw, Ga.

Kristian Varner, DL, 6-4, 240, Hiram, Ga.

Justin Olson, WR, 6-2, 185, Huntersville, NC

Asim Richards, OL, 6-5, 285, Philadelphia, Pa.

Ben Kiernan, Punter, 6-0, 205, Raleigh, NC

Wyatt Tunail, OL, 6-5, 270, Chester, SC

Josh Henderson, 6-1, 205, Pennington, NJ

Giovanni Biggers, 6-1, 175, Columbia, Md.

Triston Miller, 6-6, 290, Charlotte, NC

Storm Duck, 6-1, 180, Boiling Springs, SC

Welton Spottsville, WR, 6-0, 200, Havelock, NC

Khadry Jackson, LB, 6-2, 200, Windermere, Fla.

ECU

Alex Angus, DB, 6-2, 190 Browns Summit, N.C.

Keziah Everett DT, 6-1, 325 Farmville, N.C.

Malik Fleming DB 5-9, 180 Fairburn, Ga.

Alex Flinn QB 6-1 , 210 Fletcher, N.C.

Traveon Freshwater DE 6-1 , 230 Elizabeth City, N.C.

Bryan Gagg* QB 6-3 , 200 Bradenton, Fla.

Hozey Haji-Badri* DT 6-3, 270 Chantilly, Va.

Jsi Hatfield* WR 5-9, 175 Graham, N.C.

Trent Holler OL 6-2, 285 Latrobe, Pa.

C.J. Johnson WR 6-2, 220 Greenville, N.C.

Jeremy Lewis TE 6-3, 215 Greenville, N.C.

Bailey Malovic* OL 6-6, 260 Irmo, S.C.

Demetrius Mauney RB 6-0, 195 Forest City, N.C.

Ja’Quan McMillian* DB 5-9, 165 Winston-Salem, N.C.

Patrick Nations* PK 6-0, 190 Tamassee, S.C.

Juan Powell* ATH 5-11, 170 Atlanta, Ga.

Chad Stephens LB 6-0 , 225 Greensboro, N.C.

Nishad Strother OL 6-3 290 Havelock, N.C.

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Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.
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