North Carolina recruiting: Sizing up Tar Heels’ next quarterback board
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 DieHards.com team. Read his daily notebooks here at 7 p.m. ET Sunday through Thursday. In this edition, we look at the quarterbacks being targeted by the Tar Heels in the Class of 2019.
After having stellar production from Mitchell Trubisky in 2016, North Carolina’s quarterback position hit some turbulence in 2017.
The Tar Heels rotated three quarterbacks — freshman Chazz Surratt, sophomore Nathan Elliott and senior Brandon Harris — and each completed less than 60 percent of his passes and averaged less than 200 yards per game.
Elliott and Surratt return, this time with freshmen Jace Ruder, a 4-star dual-threat quarterback, and Cade Fortin, a 3-star pro-style passer, entering the mix. This is likely to be another year of growth at the position, and North Carolina’s coaching staff is still searching for the next QB to add in the Class of 2019.
North Carolina has handed out offers to seven quarterbacks in the junior class and has scouted many more. Here’s a look at four of the Tar Heels’ top targets for the position:
Sam Howell, 4-star pro-style QB, Monroe, N.C.
Sam Howell is no doubt North Carolina’s top quarterback target in the Class of 2019.
The problem is that Howell, the nation’s No. 4 pro-style quarterback and No. 152 overall player per 247Sports, is on top of a lot of schools’ lists.
Howell has been highly recruited by Clemson, Florida State, N.C. State and Tennessee. He has offers from 31 schools, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State.
In three years as the starter at Sun Valley High School, Howell has completed 626 of his 1,062 pass attempts for 10,175 yards and 109 touchdowns.
Over the last month, he’s visited Clemson, Ohio State, Florida and Florida State.
Max Duggan, 4-star dual-threat QB, Council Bluffs, Iowa
North Carolina has looked at both pro-style and dual-threat quarterbacks over the last several years, and Max Duggan would definitely be the preference for the latter role.
The nation’s No. 7 dual-threat quarterback and No. 300 overall player, per the 247Sports composite, has 24 offers, including Notre Dame, Ohio State, Georgia, N.C. State and Oregon.
North Carolina hasn’t gotten a visit from Duggan, which might set the Tar Heels back as TCU, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Minnesota have received visits.
In three seasons at Lewis Central High School, Duggan has rushed for 1,502 yards and 27 touchdowns in addition to his 3,788 passing yards and 35 touchdowns.
Grant Gunnell, 4-star pro-style QB, Houston
The schools that aren’t in on Howell are probably in on Grant Gunnell.
Gunnell is the nation’s No. 2 pro-style quarterback and No. 53 overall player, Gunnell has 39 offers, including those from just about every blue-blood recruiting powerhouse. Oklahoma State, Oregon, LSU and Ohio State are considered the favorites.
Gunnell is the prototypical quarterback prospect, standing at 6-foot-6, 222 pounds. He’s thrown for 11,356 yards and 142 yards at St. Pius X.
Gunnell, a former Texas A&M commit, has one official visit scheduled: Arizona.
Connor Bazelak, 3-star pro-style QB, Dayton, Ohio
Connor Bazelak is the most recent offer at the quarterback position from the Tar Heels’ staff.
Bazelak ranks as the No. 16 pro-style quarterback and No. 616 overall prospect in the class, per the 247Sports composite. He was on campus for North Carolina’s junior day when he picked up his offer, which should boost its chances with him.
Bazelak has 18 offers, with the primary competition being Indiana, Kentucky, Pitt, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.
After his visit, Bazelak told 247Sports’ Bill Greene that North Carolina was “high on my list.” He also indicated that Vanderbilt, Georgia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Purdue and Ohio State were all slated to get visits and that he’d like to commit by May or June. He may also take official visits this spring, according to Greene.
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