Commentary

Tar Heel commits deal with news

Players surprised by news, but so far they are sticking with North Carolina

Originally Published: July 28, 2011
By Dave Hooker | ESPN Recruiting

Disturbed? Yes. Shaken? Not yet.

North Carolina football commits reached by ESPN on Wednesday night admitted they were shocked by coach Butch Davis' ouster amid an ongoing NCAA investigation, but most seemed likely to keep their commitment to be a Tar Heel.

UNC had 12 commitments and the 25th-ranked class in the country when Davis was fired.

"I picked the school because of the school, because of my history with the school, not the coaches," linebacker Phillip Williamson said. "Coaches come and go. Stuff happens."

Stuff was certainly happening on Wednesday when Davis was fired. One of 12 commitments, Williamson said he was preparing to call other commitments to make sure they "keep their minds on Carolina."

"I picked the school because I love the school," the Durham (N.C.) Charles E. Jordan standout said.

Williamson said he was still committed to North Carolina because he grew up a Tar Heels fan. However, he admitted to being upset by the coaching change and its unusual timing, just days before preseason camp begins and little more than a month before the 2011 season opener.

"I just saw them last week and it seemed like everything was great," Williamson said of UNC's coaches. "You get the bad news and it frustrates you."

Receiver Kedrick Davis from Charlotte (N.C.) Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology admitted he second-guessed his commitment to Carolina, but texted that he is still firm.

"Thought about it but I'm a Tarheel [sic]," the message read.

Quarterback Patton Robinette from Maryville (Tenn.) High School seemed unsure about his future, even while continuing his public pledge to enroll at UNC.

"I don't know about my situation right now," he said. "I didn't commit to North Carolina just for Butch Davis."

Robinette said he would like to see offensive coordinator and quarterback coach John Shoop stay on in Chapel Hill. North Carolina will discuss plans for an interim coach on Thursday.

"That would be a big deal for me," he said.

One of UNC's highest-rated prospects hadn't even heard of the news when his family was contacted by ESPN. Tight end Terrance Knox was at practice at Concord (N.C.) High School when the news broke. His father, Charles Knox, said the family will discuss the coaching change.

"It came as a shock," Charles Knox said. "He really likes Carolina and hopefully he chose North Carolina for the school not the coach. It's something to think about.

"In my opinion, I think he'll stay."

But uncertainty is part of life now for the Tar Heels. Davis was bringing in one of the top classes in the country. He's gone and where this class ends up remains to be seen.

Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for over a decade. Email him at davehookerespn@gmail.com.

Dave Hooker

Reporter, RecruitingNation