Mack Brown is on a mission.
Since his return to North Carolina in November, Brown has been working to reshape UNC’s football program, starting on the recruiting front. Under previous head coach Larry Fedora, UNC struggled when it came to bringing in top-tier prospects. That seems to be changing quickly under Brown, who has long held a reputation for being a skilled recruiter.
During his time coaching at Texas, Brown was able to secure the services of future NFL Pro Bowlers like Earl Thomas, Jamaal Charles and Vince Young. After UNC fell behind in-state recruiting rivals like N.C. State last year, some hope that Brown’s recruiting prowess may be the key to building a competitive squad.
Quarterback has been a position of need for the Tar Heels ever since Mitchell Trubisky left for the NFL in 2017, so it's hardly a surprise that Brown started by focusing his efforts there. Within a month of Brown’s hiring, Sam Howell, a four-star quarterback out of Monroe, N.C., announced that he was rescinding his commitment to Florida State and would instead join the Tar Heels for the 2019 season.
Although Brown was able to steal a quarterback from the Seminoles for this year, most recruits in the class of 2019 had either already committed to schools or were close to doing so when Brown was hired, leaving the new coach with limited recruiting options.
Those limitations don't exist for the class of 2020, and Brown is taking full advantage. In the past six months, the Tar Heels have been able to nab multiple four-star recruits despite competing offers from Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State, and are currently ranked 10th in 247Sports' team recruiting rankings for the class of 2020.
Looking to add more options at quarterback, Brown secured commitments from four-stars Malik Hornsby of Missouri City, Texas, and Jacolby Criswell of Morrilton, Ark., With Howell, Hornsby and Criswell now in the mix, UNC will have plenty of fresh blood to compete under center in coming seasons.
As Brown works to overhaul UNC’s offense, he was also able to land a big-name wide receiver for his program. Josh Downs, a four-star recruit from Suwanee, Ga., will be joining the Tar Heels in 2020 to catch passes from whoever wins the upcoming quarterback battle.
On the defensive side of the ball, Brown has already made some big additions, as well. Midlothian, Va., linebacker Ethan West and Charlotte, N.C. safety Cameron Roseman-Sinclair are two more four-star prospects that will join UNC in 2020.