Keeshawn Silver

Rocky Mount High’s Keeshawn Silver, left, tackles West Carteret’s Josh Plisko in the backfield during the Gryphons’ 2018 playoff run. Silver, a junior and 2021 defensive end recruit, on Tuesday announced a verbal commitment to play football for North Carolina.

Keeshawn Silver has been increasingly on the minds of college football fans across the country as the Rocky Mount High junior defensive end began to pare down his recruitment offers this week.

Silver on Tuesday cut the list of programs vying for his talent to one when he verbally committed to North Carolina, an announcement he made on Twitter.

“I grew up a Tar Heel fan so it was my main focus to go there,” Silver said. “So when you have the opportunity to play there and they show you love, you go. Basically, I was born a Tar Heels fan and I had the opportunity to go there.”

He said the highlight of one of his visits was meeting men’s basketball coach Roy Williams.

“I got to meet Roy Williams,” Silver said. “That was a dream come true. It felt good there and it felt like home, which was important because I went there more than one time.”

Silver, a member of the 2021 recruiting class, was recently rated a 5-star prospect by ESPN and was ranked No. 10 overall on the network’s list of the nation’s top 300 juniors. Silver was one of 12 athletes on the list to have a 5-star rating.

He is also one of four players in the top 10 to have made commitments; Two are committed to Clemson and one player is committed to Ohio State.

At 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, the defensive end led the Gryphons in sacks last season with seven. In 19 varsity games, Silver has 78 total tackles and 10.5 sacks. He said he has a goal of setting the career sack record at RMH, a task that would require at least 12 next season.

Silver’s size and potential as a pass rusher was difficult for many colleges to ignore. He said he received 33 offers from schools across the country. The attention came fast and steady as Silver picked up offers almost daily for weeks.

On Feb. 21 he cut the list to his top 15 schools. On Feb. 29, Silver made a top seven list that included Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Auburn, LSU, Oregon and Alabama. The Southeastern Conference-heavy recruitment helped Silver understand that his decision would have national interest.

“Yeah, I felt it like when you get certain offers like Alabama and Nebraska,” he said. “You know those schools’ fans are going to keep up with it.”

As for the process itself, Silver is glad it’s over.

“Once you get a certain amount of offers it was like, ‘Oh, man,’’ he said. “You have 33 of them and you’re trying to figure out the best school. I did it by going from 33 to 15 to seven. I just wanted to get it over with. I just felt like I should focus more on one school than a bunch, and I wanted to focus on my senior season.”