On Dec. 26, 2014, the North Carolina Tar Heels looked like little more than a middle-of-the-pack member of the ACC Coastal. It was on that day that UNC’s season ended, with a record of 6-7, thanks to a blowout loss to Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl. An NCAA investigation cast a dark shadow over Chapel Hill, and programs like Georgia, Clemson, Tennessee and Florida were in the midst of a run that saw them pull several potential difference-makers out of the Tar Heel State over the last handful of classes.
Fast forward to Nov. 28, 2015, when North Carolina defeated rival NC State to win its 11th game in a row, and with it, had a prime seat at the table in the College Football Playoff discussion. While the Heels lost a heartbreaker to the Tigers and followed it up with a defenseless loss to a depleted Baylor team in the Citrus Bowl, the table was already set for a strong 2017 recruiting class in Chapel Hill.