On Aug. 13, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association announced that its football season would not start until Feb. 26 due to lingering concerns over COVID-19. For many high school recruits, this announcement meant the end of their high school careers, as many decided to forego their senior seasons and enroll early in their college programs.
Just one day after the NCHSAA’s decision, Dontavius Nash — a four-star safety committed to the North Carolina football team — tweeted that he would be hanging up his jersey at Hunter Huss High School in Gastonia, North Carolina in favor of enrolling at UNC.
“It hurts, but it’s all about doing what’s best for me. I felt that by staying I could risk getting hurt,” Nash said. “In football, one play can be the end of your career, so I just thought of that. Basically doing what’s best for me. I want to get to the NFL as quick as I can, and I felt like early enrolling could help me do that.”
Despite losing some talent, Nash’s high school coach was understanding and supportive of his decision to end his high school career after just three seasons with the Huskies.
“He’s gonna support me whatever I do, and he’s behind me 100 percent,” Nash said. “He said he was happy that I made the decision because it shows I’m becoming a man.”
Along with Nash, seven other 4-star recruits from the class of 2021 have announced they will be enrolling at UNC in January. Among these seven are wide receiver Gavin Blackwell and defensive linemen Jahvaree Ritzie and Keeshawn Silver.
UNC's 2021 class currently ranks No. 12 nationally — its highest ranked haul since 2009 — and includes 11 four-star prospects.
Nash said it has always been a goal of his to graduate early, and that he thinks it will serve as an advantage to learn the playbook early and get ahead in school. Regardless, he recognized that college football is a whole different game, and one that will require some getting used to.
“In college, everybody’s good," Nash said. "In high school, you have your certain players on the team that are good. Most of the commits are the best on their high school teams. Going to college you’re gonna be on a team full of people that were the best on their team. It’s just gonna be guys that are bigger, faster, stronger and smarter."
With all of the chaos and uncertainty surrounding the football world right now, Nash is still looking forward to officially becoming a Tar Heel.
“I’m excited that the program has turned around, I’m ready to be a part of something great,” Nash said. “I’m ready to be coached by all the coaches, coached up by most of the older players, and you know, just to be on campus and make new friends.”
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