One of the top uncommitted quarterbacks a in America has come off the board. Conner Harrell will play at North Carolina.
The Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson state champion, who announced his commitment to Mack Brown and company at a party during his family’s 4th of July celebration, now headlines the future for one of the top programs in the ACC.
“I’m committed to the University of North Carolina,” Harrell told Sports Illustrated. “I love the atmosphere there, the coaching staff, Coach (Phil) Longo Coach Mack Brown, they have a truly explosive offense. They had a really good season last year, they’re going to continue to be a good time and I’m excited about the opportunity there.”
While he announced the pick publicly on Sunday, the 6’1”, 185-pound right-handed passer actually let the Tar Heel program — and even some potential future teammates — know while he was on his second of two trips to Chapel Hill in June.
“I actually committed on the official visit last week, I was 100% sure of where I wanted to go,” he said. “I pulled the trigger, it felt right. It was last Saturday on the visit. It was at the dinner, with all the recruits, all the hosts, and told them I was committing.
“Everybody started clapping, it was something exciting. I wanted to do it in front of other recruits.”
The gesture from Harrell surely impressed his new head coach in Brown, who has been around some of the top college football quarterbacks of the modern era. But credit for this UNC get absolutely includes their offensive coordinator.
“He’s already told me I was a great fit, he loves my family, he loves my personality,” he said. “He thinks I can be a leader and he like my film, obviously. He thinks I’m an exceptional thrower and that I can get out of the pocket when I move. He also trusts Coach Longo with quarterbacks.
“We have a really good relationship, it’s really grown in the last week. We talk about a lot of life stuff, stuff outside of football. He’s really focused on family as well.”
Harrell admitted it wasn’t easy looking beyond Michigan and Northwestern, two of the other finalists for his services, but he is relieved and settled to be done with the process.
Now the focus shifts back to Thompson High School and its title defense, off to a strong start with a 10-0 run through a state 7-on-7 tournament during the week. The events were some of his first since recovering from a broken collar bone suffered in the state title game in December.
Beyond the prep level, Harrell will be all about the Heels.
“Just how excited I am about North Carolina, I knew it was the best spot for me,” he said. ”It’s a good location, most were far from home, but I like it. The ACC is a really good conference, too, but that wasn’t important for my decision
“They have a great facility, a big campus, and I like the culture. Everybody is bought into what Coach Brown is doing. And the players I got to hang with, like with Beau Coralles, my host, he really showed me what the life was like.”
Harrell completed better than 73% of his passes to pair with a head-turning touchdown-interception ratio of 42:3 in 2020. Another 319 yards and five scores came via his running ability.
North Carolina now holds nine verbal commitments in the class of 2022. The newest addition is the sole quarterback in the class. He’s also the only prospect from the state of Alabama currently committed to the program.