Four-star athlete Gabe Stephens verbally committed to North Carolina on Friday, he told Inside Carolina, less than a week after attending a Heels’ junior day. He’s the third in-state four-star prospect to pledge to the Heels in the 2021 class.
Stephens, a 6-foot-3, 195-pounder from Mount Holly (N.C.) Mountain Island Charter School, selected the Tar Heels over fellow finalists Florida, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, and Virginia Tech.
“This was a tough decision, but I would like to thank Coach (Tommy) Thigpen and Coach (Robert) Gillespie for making this process stress free. I would also like to thank Coach Mack Brown for being the GOAT and keeping it real with me. With all that being said, I’m committing to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill!” Stephens posted on his Twitter account.
Prior to announcing his top eight, Stephens had a top 12 that consisted of the aforementioned eight, plus Charlotte, South Carolina, Syracuse, and Vanderbilt. All dozen — and a dozen more — offered him a scholarship.
In addition to his four-star rating, the 247Sports Composite ranks Stephens as the nation’s No. 17 athlete and No. 240 prospect overall.
“Gabe is one of those players who is versatile,” Mountain Island Charter head coach Robert Washington said. “You don’t really know what position that he’s going to be set to play because he’s tall — when you see Gabe, Gabe’s gained an inch since last year so he’s all of 6-3. I think Gabe is a cornerback first but if he gets any taller he’ll need to move to safety [or] outside linebacker… If he grows to what the doctors told him, he’ll be at least 6-6. He could be a big threat at wide receiver or he could put his hands in the ground because he’s naturally physical.”
Due to injury, Stephens was limited to nine games in 2019. During that season, he played defensive end, linebacker, and defensive back on defense. He finished with 85 tackles, 14 TFL, 11 sacks, seven QB hurries, and blocked a punt. On offense, he played tight end and receiver, where he had seven receptions for 120 yards and four touchdowns.
Stephens’s universal usage wasn’t limited to his junior season — that has been the case since he joined Mountain Island’s varsity squad as a freshman.155COMMENTS
Within UNC’s defense, which is coordinated by Jay Bateman, Stephens projects as an outside linebacker.
Stephens’s father, Calvin, who died of a heart attack in June 2010, starred at South Carolina and was selected in the third round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.