North Carolina has always been a fertile ground for school football talent.
It's a fact that was confirmed this week by the selections to Sports Illustrated's inaugural High School All-American watch list.
Of the 1,000 players nationally earning recognition, 55 are from the Old North State. Only Florida (142), Texas (129), Georgia (84) and California (79) have more players named.
The trick now is getting the best of those players to stay in the state for their college careers. That's been a major problem in the past, but the tide is starting to shift, especially with the Class of 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic and the inability of prospects to take official in-person visits.
“North Carolina checking in as a top-five talent-producing state this cycle is significant and has area programs benefiting, but none more so than the University of North Carolina," SI director of recruiting John Garcia Jr. said. "Mack Brown’s staff has secured the state’s top prospects, headlined by quarterback Drake Maye and defensive end Keeshawn Silver."
Coach Dave Doeren and his NC State staff have also made inroads in recruiting some of the state's best.with commitments from six SI All-American candidates -- Jakolbe Baldwin, Micah Crowell, Jaleel Davis, Julian Gray, Mario Love Jr. and Travali Price.
And several highly-rated recruits, including NC State targets Jordan Poole and Jabril McNeill, are still up for grabs.
For a breakdown of which of the 1,000 SIAA nominees across the nation have verbally committed to or are considering Power 5 schools in the state of North Carolina, head to:
The North Carolina high school seniors who are SIAA candidates are:
- Bryson Nesbit - 6-6 / 220 / TE from Charlotte, N.C.
- Coleman Jeffcoat - 6-3 / 205 / WR from Charlotte, N.C.
- Drake Maye - 6-5 / 210 / QB from Charlotte, N.C.
- Jesiah Davis - 6-2 / 170 / WR from Charlotte, N.C.
- Kaci Seegars - 6-2 / 215 / LB/RB from Charlotte, N.C.
- Power Echols - 6-1 / 210 / ILB from Charlotte, N.C.
- Jared Wilson - 6-4 / 325 / OT from Clemmons, N.C.
- DeAndre Bokyins - 5-11 / 185 / S from Concord, N.C.
- Evan Pryor - 5-10 / 190 / RB from Cornelius, N.C.
- Mario Love Jr. - 5-10 / 170 / CB from Cornelius, N.C.
- Bralyn Oliver - 6-2 / 195 / S from Cornelius, N.C.
- Aaron Hall - 6-5 / 210 / ATH from Durham, N.C.
- Anthony Freeman - 5-11 / 211 / OLB from Durham, N.C.
- Jalen Wright - 5-11 / 187 / RB from Durham, N.C.
- Dontavius Nash - 6-2 / 170 / ATH from Gastonia, N.C.
- Nick Sharpe - 6-2 / 297 / DT from Gastonia, N.C.
- Nicholas Barrett - 6-4 / 320 / DT from Goldsboro, N.C.
- Payton Page - 6-4 / 330 / DT from Greensboro, N.C.
- Kamarro Edmonds - 5-11 / 200 / RB from Havelock, N.C.
- Julian Gray - 5-10.5 / 174 / WR from Huntersville, N.C.
- Tymir Brown - 6-1 / 160 / CB from Jacksonville, N.C.
- Jaden Lindsay - 6-3 / 270 / OG from Kernersville, N.C.
- Jahvaree Ritzie - 6-4.5 / 274 / DE from Kernersville, N.C.
- Micah Crowell - 6-2 / 215 / WR from Kernersville, N.C.
- Raneiria Dillworth - 6-2 / 195 / OLB from Kernersville, N.C.
- Zyun Reeves - 6-7 / 245 / DE from Kernersville, N.C.
- Dameon Wilson - 6-1 / 210 / ILB from Kings Mountain, N.C.
- Kobe Paysour - 6-1 / 175 / ATH from Kings Mountain, N.C.
- Trevion Cooley - 5-11 / 208 / RB from Knightdale, N.C.
- Travali Price - 6-4 / 246 / DE from Lincolnton, N.C.
- Nate Hampton - 6-6 / 230 / QB from Mocksville, N.C.
- Gabe Stephens - 6-3 / 205 / ATH from Mount Holly , N.C.
- Will Shipley - 5-11 / 200 / RB from Matthews, N.C.
- Gavin Blackwell - 6-0 / 165 / WR from Monroe, N.C.
- Michael Gonzalez - 6-4 / 280 / OG from Monroe, N.C.
- Yousef Mugharbil - 6-5 / 300 / OG from Murphy, N.C.
- Brandon Johnson - 5-10 / 170 / CB from Newton, N.C.
- Jordan Poole - 6-0 / 225 / ATH from Oakboro, N.C.
- Andrew Jones - 6-4 / 255 / OT from Pfafftown, N.C.
- Issac Washington - 6-3 / 268 / DT from Pilot Mountain, N.C.
- Andrew Canelas - 6-8 / 300 / OT from Raleigh, N.C.
- Jabril McNeill - 6-4 / 225 / OLB from Raleigh, N.C.
- Diego Pounds - 6-6 / 305 / OT from Raleigh, N.C.
- Jacob Gill - 6-0 / 170 / WR from Raleigh, N.C.
- Joshua Sosanya - 6-1.5 / 180 / S from Raleigh, N.C.
- Kaemen Marley - 6-2 / 205 / ATH from Ramseur, N.C.
- Breon Pass - 6-1 / 160 / WR from Reidsville, N.C.
- Caleb Hood - 6-0 / 220 / ATH from Rockingham, N.C.
- Dalton Stroman - 6-3 / 183 / WR from Rockingham, N.C.
- Jakolbe Baldwin - 6-0 / 175 / WR Rockingham, N.C.
- Jaleel Davis - 6-6 / 300 / OT from Rockingham, N.C.
- Keeshawn Silver - 6-5 / 270 / DE from Rocky Mount, N.C.
- Jack Hollifield - 6-3 / 225 / ATH from Shelby, N.C.
- Isaiah Pipkin - 6-6 / 220 / LB from Wake Forest, N.C.
- Colby Smith - 6-7 / 295 / OT from Wentworth, N.C.
- Zaire Patterson - 6-6 / 230 / DE from Winston-Salem, N.C.
Video highlights, scouting analyses and a list of each player’s college verbal commitment and/or top college contenders can be found on their bio pages, broken down by state, at SIAllAmerican.com.
The evaluation process will continue throughout the season “until the list of 1,000 contenders coalesces around just 25 young men who can say proudly they are the best of the best -- they are Sports Illustrated All-Americans,” said Garcia.
Sports Illustrated will narrow the 1,000 All-America candidates to 250 in October, 99 in November and then announce a first-team of 25, second-team of 25 and an honorable mention group in December.
The first-team selections will be invited to the SI Sportsperson of the Year banquet.Over the coming weeks, SI will unveil its preseason top 10 for each of 14 position groups (kicking off with quarterbacks this week). SI will unveil its initial preseason top 99 ranking, the SI99, on August 24.
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