North Carolina recruiting: Tar Heels hoping to replicate out-of-state success in 2019

Join us daily at ACC DieHards for the latest North Carolina recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Tar Heels. Don’t miss any coverage from Cody Pace and the team. Read his daily notebooks  here  at 9 a.m. ET Monday through Friday. In this edition, we discuss some of the out-of-state prospects that Tar Heels fans should keep an eye on in the Class of 2019.

North Carolina is coming off a successful recruiting cycle in which it had some success with in-state talent.

But the Tar Heels staff had just as much success across the Southeast. The Class of 2018 consisted of six players from Georgia, the same number of players that came from North Carolina. The Tar Heels also nabbed four players from Florida, two from Alabama and one each from South Carolina and Virginia.

Since we took some time earlier this month to look at the top in-state talent that the Tar Heels are already considering, it’s only fitting that we check some prospects from around the Southeast who have already piqued the interest of North Carolina’s coaching staff.

It’s worth noting that these are players who have already shown some reciprocal interest in North Carolina and not just the best out-of-state players with a North Carolina offer. Once junior days finish and summer camps begin, this list will probably change dramatically.

Devyn Ford, 4-star RB, Stafford, Va.

Virginia has become harder for the Tar Heels to recruit of late with coach Justin Fuente’s success at Virginia Tech.

The Tar Heels were able to pull out 3-star defensive end Chris Collins in the Class of 2018, but lost out to the Hokies on a few players.

Devyn Ford, the No. 6 running back and No. 70 overall player in the Class of 2019, is rated among the best players in the state, so it should come as no surprise that North Carolina will have to battle with Virginia Tech for Ford’s commitment.

Clemson, Penn State and Ohio State are also in the mix among his 30 offers, so it’s going to be a challenge. But that won’t stop the Tar Heels from putting their best foot forward and giving it a shot.

Keon Zipperer, 4-star TE, Lakeland, Fla.

Florida ended up being a boon to North Carolina’s recruiting efforts on Signing Day, yielding 4-star tackle William Barnes.

While North Carolina certainly benefitted from the upheaval in the state with the firing of Jim McElwain at Florida, and Jimbo Fisher’s departure for Texas A&M from Florida State followed by the hire of Willie Taggart, it’s hoping for more good fortune in the Sunshine State.

Keon Zipperer, a 4-star tight end, is among the jewels from the state. The nation’s No. 3 tight end and No. 124 overall player is easily a top 20 player in one of the richest states in the country for recruiting, so it’s no surprise that the competition is stiff.

Not only are in-state powers Florida and Miami involved, but so are solid national recruiters such as Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma.

Ben Smiley, 4-star DT, Chesapeake, Va.

North Carolina had a strong recruiting class in the trenches on both sides of the ball in 2018 and hopes to repeat that in 2019.

The defensive line could really benefit from an in-state player such as C.J. Clark, but 4-star defensive tackle Ben Smiley could just as easily anchor the class.

Smiley, the No. 21 defensive tackle and No. 342 overall player, has 19 offers, but it looks like a race between four teams right now — Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Jackson Lowe, 3-star TE, Cartersville, Ga.

The Tar Heels were incredibly successful in Georgia last year despite the rise of Georgia on the recruiting trail.

So far, there hasn’t been a lot of attention paid to the Peach State by North Carolina, but that’s sure to change over the next couple of months.

One player who’s already on the radar is 3-star tight end Jackson Lowe.

Lowe may not have the same hype as some of the other players on this list, but he’s a solid tight end who ranks No. 16 at his position and No. 446 nationally.

At Cartersville, Lowe spent his junior season catching passes from Clemson signee Trevor Lawrence, so it’s no surprise to see the Tigers in the race, too. But among his 26 offers, it seems like those are the two schools standing out.

Max Duggan, 4-star QB, Council Bluffs, Iowa

OK, Iowa isn’t in the Southeast, so this is more like a bonus prospect.

But North Carolina did have some success beyond its corner of the U.S. recruiting quarterbacks such as 4-star Norton, Kan., signee Jace Ruder. The school also had 4-star quarterback Tyler Shough out of Arizona committed before a difficult season resulted in a flip to Oregon.

Max Duggan, a 4-star quarterback, fits what North Carolina wants at the position.

However, the nation’s No. 7 dual-threat quarterback is drawing some interest, and is high on a handful of schools including Iowa and Iowa State, Georgia and Nebraska, the team that is favored to land him.

Miss a previous edition? Find every ACC DieHards daily North Carolina Tar Heels recruiting notebook right here.

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