CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina — North Carolina coach Larry Fedora is hoping to find some help for the Tar Heels' struggling defense and its offensive line with his latest recruiting class.
The Tar Heels' 19-player class introduced on national signing day Wednesday emphasized improving play up front on both sides of the ball. Ten signees were offensive linemen, defensive linemen or tight ends.
"We're trying to build depth across the board and bring in guys that can help us immediately," Fedora said. "And that's what we feel like we've done with this class."
Nine players enrolled in January, including top recruit Jalen Dalton, an in-state defensive end.
While UNC's offense put up big numbers yet again in its third season under Fedora, the 4-2-5 defense gave up the most points and yards in program history last year. That led to the arrival of former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik as defensive coordinator.
It marked Fedora's first recruiting class free of scholarship restrictions from NCAA penalties from 2012, though the NCAA has reopened its probe into the school's long-running academic fraud scandal.
Fedora said "negative recruiting" by other schools was "at an all-time high."
"We spend a lot of our time unfortunately not selling what the university has to offer and defending against the accusations and the stories that are made up a lot of times in the home," he said. "We end up spending a lot of time spinning our wheels."
UNC didn't use its full allotment of scholarships, with Fedora saying some of that was due to the late hiring of Chizik and finding recruits that fit the new scheme. Fedora said UNC decided to save those for next season.
Top 25 class: On the bubble.
Best in class: Jalen Dalton, DE, Clemmons, North Carolina.
Best of the rest: William Sweet, OL, Jacksonville Florida; Tommy Hatton, OL, Montvale, New Jersey.
Late addition: DE Jason Strowbridge from Deerfield Beach, Florida, flipped from Kentucky to UNC this week.
One that got away: Defensive back Prentice McKinney from Dallas, Texas, switched to Oklahoma.
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