To be NC or Not


Jackson Cook, Sports Editor

The state of North Carolina produces some of the most talented high school football players in the country, but very few of these players choose to play collegiate football at in-state universities, such as NC State and UNC.
In the number of college football players produced per state, North Carolina ranks 11th. On average, 60 Division one college football recruits come from our state every year according to
Very few of these players stay in their home state to pursue their football dreams. Over the last 10 years North Carolina has produced 96 four and five star recruits, but only 35 stayed in-state according to

Out of state universities have been harvesting the crème of the crop of North Carolina football talent. The University of Alabama, Florida State University, The University of Mississippi and many other schools have taken athletes away from their home state.

Keith Marshall of Raleigh and Todd Gurley of Tarboro were both highly recruited running backs in the 2012 class. Both players received offers to play football at several in-state universities, but chose instead to play for the University of Georgia.
Connor Mitch, from Wakefield, also received offers from in-state schools, yet he decided to play football for the University of South Carolina.
The quarterback/wide receiver Braxton Berrios, from Leesville, was a highly recruited prospect in the 2014 class. He, too, was the recipient of offers to play football from in-state and out of state schools. Berrios has decided to play football for The University of Miami.
Here we have two football players who can and will play football at the next level.
Junior Bryce Love is a four-star recruit, according to and is being recruited by schools all across the country. Sophomore Dexter Lawrence is also a four- star recruit according to
Love is the seventh ranked high school running back in the country according to He has already received offers from in-state schools such as The University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, East Carolina, Wake Forest, Appalachian State and Duke.
“Playing for in-state schools is good because you can stay close to home, and you already know a lot of people. It also means more playing for those schools because you grew up with them,” Love said.
Teams from the Southeastern Conference have won seven out of the last eight Division one national championships. SEC schools have ridden the momentum from these championships onto the recruiting trail. SEC schools account for seven out of the top ten recruiting classes for 2014 according to
Among the schools to show interest in Love are several SEC schools such as The University of Tennessee, The University of Arkansas, The University of Georgia, The University of Florida, Vanderbilt University and The University of South Carolina.
However, Love is not influenced by conference affiliation.
“I don’t feel like SEC schools make a difference. All schools offer different things. It’s not all about winning games. It’s about the school and people,” Love said.
Several schools not in the SEC or ACC have offered scholarships to Love. Ohio State University, The University of Nebraska, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, and Syracuse University have all expressed the desire for Love to play for their school.
Dexter Lawrence is only a sophomore, but he too has entered the crazy world of college football recruitment. Tennessee, Arkansas, Clemson, Michigan, South Carolina, Ohio State and Florida have all offered Lawrence football scholarships. Lawrence has also received offers from in-state schools like The University of North Carolina and North Carolina State.
There is still a long way to go before Lawrence will commit to a certain school.
“I like both in-state and out of state schools, but I need to look into all these schools more before I make a decision,” Lawrence said.
Coaches have taken notice of the lack of recruiting by in-state universities of homegrown talent.
In an article run in the News & Observer in November, Jim Bob Bryant, the head coach of Havelock High school, criticized North Carolina schools for not aggressively recruiting in-state players.
This has not been the case at our school. The head coaches from all five Division one in-state schools have visited our school to recruit Love and Lawrence.
Most notably, David Cutcliffe of Duke University and Dave Doern of NC State have visited.
In total, 25 coaches from colleges and universities from all over the nation have come to Wake Forest to recruit.
For the past decade the trend of North Carolina recruits leaving home to play out of state has been unbroken. Universities from states all over the country have taken the best football talent North Carolina has had to offer.
Love and Lawrence both have the opportunity to write their own chapter in the recruitment story.
Love said, “Some days I feel like staying close to home. Some days I just want to go out and have new experiences.”