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The Daily Tar Heel

Emerging stars: UNC football's 2023 recruiting class makes transition to collegiate play

UNC football recruit Chris Culliver (2), pictured, is currently a senior wide receiver and cornerback at Maiden High School in Maiden, N.C. Photo Courtesy of Caine Houser/Maiden High School Athletics.

Last year, the North Carolina football team boasted the No. 11 ranked recruiting class in the country — this year, it's a different story.

Ranked 30th nationally by 247Sports, UNC signed 20 recruits, including six 4-stars. While most first-years may not have an immediate impact on the team, here's a look at the most highly-touted prospects.

Chris Culliver

Ranked the 18th-best wide receiver in the nation and the highest-rated prospect of UNC’s 2023 recruiting class, Culliver slots himself into a crowded receiver room. He totaled 3,617 yards and 52 TDs at Maiden High School, earning the conference's Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors as a senior.

The 6-foot-1 pass catcher specializes in using his larger frame to get off the line and catch the ball in traffic, averaging over 20 yards per reception in his final two high school seasons. Culliver, currently ranked fourth on the depth chart in terms of X-receivers, will add valuable depth to the wideout corps.

Tyler Thompson

The Cary, N.C. native made a name for himself at Panther Creek High School by pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing 220 pounds, Thompson uses his slim frame to be quick off the line and get around opposing offensive linemen.

The two-time all-state selection and 4-star recruit was the 31st ranked edge in the nation according to 247Sports. He will be one of six jack position players on the team — a new role that defensive coordinator Gene Chizik added to his defense last season. Thompson's job will be to rush and wreak havoc on opposing signal callers every snap he plays.

Jaybron Harvey

Ranked as the 34th-best nationally, Harvey saw similar success to Thompson against opposing offenses. As a pass rusher for Southern High School in Durham, he finished with 38.5 sacks and led the nation with an impressive 28.5-sack season as a junior. 

He will also assume the jack position this year, using his 240-pound frame to overpower opponents and draw double teams. Harvey's pure physical ability is the most intriguing aspect of his game and should translate well to the college ranks. 

Christian Hamilton

Another first-year entering the deep receiving corps with Culliver, Hamilton totaled 2,505 yards in his four years at Hickory Ridge High School. Weighing in at 185 pounds, the 5-foot-11 pass catcher relies on his blazing speed to make first defenders miss, creating big plays.

Hamilton's agility also made him an effective weapon on special teams, accumulating 309 yards on just 10 kick returns as a junior. Hamilton is currently slotted just above Culliver on the UNC depth chart.

Kaleb Cost

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Cost joins a group of defensive backs looking to turn around the worst passing defense in the ACC last season. A three-star prospect out of Sandy Creek High School, Cost proved himself to be a big-game player, earning the game-sealing interception in the state title game as a senior.

He has a nose for the football, causing three fumbles, five interceptions and six PBU as a junior. Under first-year cornerbacks coach Jason Jones, Cost will add depth at the star position.


@dthsports |

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