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NC Fertile Ground for SI All-American Candidates

North Carolina had the fifth-most football players named to Sports Illustrated's inaugural High School All-American watch list. Now the trick is getting the best of them to stay in the state

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:

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

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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