Wake Forest High’s Devon Lawrence, right, stiff arms Page defender Ronald Polite, left, in the NCHSAA 4AA football championship game in 2016. Wake Forest won the game 29-0. Ray Black III newsobserver.com
Wake Forest High’s Devon Lawrence, right, stiff arms Page defender Ronald Polite, left, in the NCHSAA 4AA football championship game in 2016. Wake Forest won the game 29-0. Ray Black III newsobserver.com

North Carolina

Wake Forest running back Devon Lawrence commits to UNC

By Jonas Pope IV And J. Mike Blake

November 03, 2017 10:54 PM

UPDATED November 04, 2017 04:25 PM

WAKE FOREST

Devon Lawrence is going to be a Tar Heel.

Lawrence, the 3-star running back from Wake Forest High School, made his announcement Friday night after the Cougars defeated crosstown-rival Heritage 38-14. Lawrence had narrowed his list to North Carolina and UCLA.

He announced the move by opening up a plastic football and tossing its contents into the air. When the Carolina blue powder came out, those huddled around him roared in celebration.

The Tar Heels seemed to always be the favorite. Lawrence took two visits to Chapel Hill recently – when UNC hosted Notre Dame and Miami – but never made an official trip to Los Angeles.

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According to 247sports, Lawrence is the 18th-best player in the state.

Last year he led Wake Forest to a 4AA state title and finished with 1,533 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.

“At my position, I like what they do (at UNC),” Lawrence said earlier this month. “They send them out the backfield, they run them, they throw deep. That’s what I like.”

Lawrence, who plans to enroll at UNC in January, said getting an opportunity to play early was a huge factor in his decision.

“I don’t want to redshirt,” he said Friday. “They’ve been telling me that if I keep working hard and do what I do, I have a good chance of playing my freshman year.”

The Tar Heels should return sophomore Jordan Brown and freshman Michael Carter next season. Lawrence spoke highly of UNC running backs coach DeAndre Smith and the relationship they were able to build during the process.

“He’s just a down-to-earth guy,” Lawrence said. “Every time I talk to him in person I feel like he is keeping it real with me.”

After missing out on Bryce Love (Stanford) and Devon’s older brother Dexter (Clemson), North Carolina suddenly has a Wake Forest pipeline. Defensive end Xach Gill is a redshirt freshman for the Tar Heels this season, while Lawrence’s current teammate, defensive back Javon Terry, committed to North Carolina in June.

“As a coach you’re proud. This young man has worked hard for four years, and he’s going to a great university,” Wake Forest High coach Reggie Lucas said. “Any time we can keep a great athlete like Devon in-state, I’m just as tickled as I can be.”

UNC won’t play Clemson next season, but will in 2019. It’s unlikely, however, that the two brothers will play one another – Dexter will likely be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft if he decides to leave a year early.

Jonas Pope IV: 919-419-7001, @JEPopeIV