New UNC recruits Sam Howell and Triston Miller, a pair of Charlotte-area high school football stars, both initially committed to other ACC schools before signing with Mack Brown’s new look North Carolina Tar Heels on Wednesday.
Howell, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound quarterback from Indian Trail’s Sun Valley High School, is the No. 2-ranked recruit in the state and the No. 1 quarterback available.
Miller, a 6-6, 290-pound left tackle from Charlotte Country Day, is ranked No. 8 in the state and is the top offensive lineman.
And when Howell was thinking about moving off his commitment to Florida State, and Miller was thinking about opening up his recruitment after committing to N.C. State, the pair talked often.
Pretty soon, they were both saying the same thing: Let’s go play at UNC.
“I’m excited to have (Miller) protecting my blindside,” Howell said. “We talked the past couple of weeks. He’s asking what I was going to do, and I was asking him what he was going to do. I definitely want to play with him. He’s a great player and if he’s blocking my blind side, I know I’m protected.”
Miller said the two connected on Instagram and developed a fast friendship.
“We started DM’ing (direct messaging) each other and talked about going to UNC together, and how we could make that happen,” Miller said. “I’m really happy because he’s obviously a really good quarterback and I feel I can do a really good job of protecting him.”
Both players feel that Wednesday’s Tar Heel signings, as well as Mack Brown returning to campus, could be the start of something special. Brown signed 18 recruits Wednesday (and is expected to sign 4-star receiver Khafre Brown from West Mecklenburg High on Thursday). If Brown signs, nine of Brown’s first 19 recruits will be from North Carolina.
Howell — whom Brown compared to former Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield — said the goal is to “run the state of North Carolina,” and he doesn’t think it will take too long.
Miller, his blindside protector, agrees with his quarterback.
“I think it’s the start of something special,” Miller said. “I think the culture of the school changed and we can make something big happen.”