PG West: A former Michigan recruit, Montour's Wilson signs with North Carolina
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Lost earlier this month in the continuing saga that is the recruiting of Terrelle Pryor was that Montour High School's Christian Wilson signed a letter of intent with North Carolina.
Wilson, who led the Spartans to the WPIAL Class AAA final and back to respectability, had verbally committed to Michigan and would have signed with the Wolverines if Lloyd Carr and his coaching staff had stayed in place. But Wilson started looking elsewhere when former West Virginia boss Rich Rodriguez was hired to replace Carr.
OK, but why North Carolina?
"They kept in touch," Montour coach Lou Cerro said. "Even after Christian verbally committed [to Michigan], they would call."
Naturally, when the coaching change at Michigan took place, North Carolina called Wilson more often or as often as the coaches there could.
He was actually considering Rutgers along with North Carolina after deciding to ditch Michigan. Wilson selected North Carolina because he liked coach Butch Davis, who is entering his second season with the Tar Heels, and the fact Davis wants him to play H-back. That's the same spot he was recruited to play at Michigan, although defensive coaches there wanted him as a linebacker.
An H-back is a hybrid of a fullback and a tight end. A player must be able to block, run pass routes and catch the football, and also run the ball as if they were a tailback. The position requires an outstanding athlete.
That's Wilson, who at 6 feet 3 and 235 pounds rushed for 2,035 yards on 299 carries for Montour this past season and also caught 13 passes for another 286 yards. He scored 29 touchdowns.
"I like the idea of playing [H-back] a lot," Wilson said after signing with North Carolina on Feb. 6. "Coach [Davis] knows how to develop and use players at that position. He's sent like 30 of them to the pros."
Davis said landing a quality player such as Wilson was a bonus for North Carolina, especially because Davis figured Wilson was going elsewhere.
"You felt like we had done everything that we could from a recruiting standpoint to put ourselves in a position to get [Wilson]," Davis said at his news conference Feb. 6. "It was a highly competitive situation.
"Christian had been earlier committed to Michigan. Once the Michigan situation changed from a coaching staff perspective, he had actually visited with us four times so we had a great relationship with him and his family.
"He'd been on campus, he loved everything here, and if you'd asked two months ago, I'd say 'Gosh, it looks like we're going to finish second on Christian Wilson, he's going to go to Michigan.'
"Obviously with the change in coaches, he reopened it and we were fortunate enough to get back into it and then obviously close the deal. We think he is a very talented player."
North Carolina's recruiting class was ranked No. 30 by Super Prep and Wilson is one of 10 four-star recruits the Tar Heels signed.
Wilson realizes he will have to put on some weight to play H-back at the next level. He doesn't see that as a problem.
"They'll probably want me to get to 250, but I'm at 230 now so that shouldn't be a problem," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting down there this summer and getting a feel for the offense."
Wilson said when he made the verbal commitment to Michigan at the end of summer North Carolina was probably third on his list.
"I didn't give them maybe as much of a chance as I should have," he said. "I'm happy with my decision."
Don't think that the recruiting merry-go-round has ended for Cerro and Montour. Junior E.J. Banks, who played quarterback and in the secondary for the Spartans, is on a number of colleges' priority lists for 2009.
A couple recruiting Web sites have Banks as one of the top defensive backs in the country and Cerro said Banks already has 20 scholarship offers.
"Ohio State, Pitt, LSU, North Carolina State are just some of the ones who have offered. They all want him as a defensive back except for Georgia Tech, which likes him as a quarterback," Cerro said. "So, we'll do it again next year with E.J."
It will be a busy summer for Cerro, what with keeping college recruiters happy and coaching in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coach's Association East-West All-Star game in Altoona on June 21. Cerro will help coach either the offensive or defensive line.
First Published February 21, 2008 12:00 am