Orange High's Payton Wilson picks UNC

Orange High School's Payton Wilson, the No. 2 linebacker in the country, on Monday picked UNC over Clemson, Virginia Tech and Ohio State in May 2017. Wilson announced Nov. 22 that he was decommitting from UNC.
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Orange High School's Payton Wilson, the No. 2 linebacker in the country, on Monday picked UNC over Clemson, Virginia Tech and Ohio State in May 2017. Wilson announced Nov. 22 that he was decommitting from UNC.
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North Carolina

UNC’s top defensive prospect, and NC high school star, decommits

By Jonathan M. Alexander

jalexander@newsobserver.com

November 22, 2017 03:08 PM

Orange High School linebacker, Payton Wilson, one of the top prospects in the country, has decommitted from UNC, he announced in a tweet on Wednesday.

Wilson, a 6-4, 210-pound outside linebacker, is a four-star prospect, and ranked No. 3 at his position. Since his commitment to UNC in May, he has visited both Notre Dame and N.C. State.

He took an official visit to N.C. State earlier this month, and was supposed to take one to Notre Dame on Nov. 18, his father, Chad Wilson, said last month. The early signing period for college football this year is Dec. 20-22.

Wilson will enroll early in college.

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In his tweet, Wilson thanked the coaches at UNC and its fans.

“My family and I have been praying and thinking on this decision a lot and I am going to be opening my recruitment process back up and decommit from UNC,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

N.C. State and Notre Dame have been trying to “flip” Wilson for a while now. You “flip” a prospect when a program gets a commit from another school to commit to their school. A prospect is fair game until he signs his National Letter of Intent (NLI). Flipping happens much more often in college football than it does in college basketball.

Both coaching staffs had visited some of Wilson’s recent games.

The elder Wilson said N.C. State and Notre Dame’s pitches to his son in the past month have been that UNC hasn’t been winning, while the Wolfpack and Irish have been. He also said coaches from Notre Dame and N.C. State in the past have used UNC’s academic scandal and potential for sanctions and penalties as a pitch to try to lure the younger Wilson away from the Tar Heels.

Wilson tore his ACL during a game for Orange High School last month. After Payton Wilson’s season-ending injury, Chad Wilson said the coaches at each of the three universities showed their support and assured his son they would still take him.

In his junior season, Payton Wilson led the state with five punt returns for touchdown while playing running back (756 yards rushing, 6 TDs), receiver (305 yards, 4 TDs), linebacker (127 tackles, 39 for loss, 13 sacks) and even kicker.

This year, Payton Wilson started the season at linebacker (103 tackles, 21 for loss, 10 sacks) and receiver (263 yards, 4 TDs), but injuries had forced him into being an option quarterback.

Please respect my decision! pic.twitter.com/CV8oS64VyI

— Payton Wilson (@payton_wilson21) November 22, 2017

He also played lacrosse and wrestling, but decided to forgo those seasons during his senior year to focus on football.

Efforts to reach Wilson were unsuccessful.

This is a developing story. Check back later for more details.

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @jonmalexander