TarHeelIllustrated - McGowan Already Becoming A Part Of The Program
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McGowan Already Becoming A Part Of The Program

Malik McGowan still has some time before arriving at UNC, but he's already becoming a part of the program.
Malik McGowan still has some time before arriving at UNC, but he's already becoming a part of the program. (Jacob Turner, THI)

FORT MILL, SC – Malik McGowan’s decision wasn’t complicated. In fact, it was pretty simple.

It was about what fit his personal needs, and that quest didn’t need anymore massaging. McGowan knew a few months ago and went ahead and popped for North Carolina.

“I tried to find the best program that fits me school wise and on the field and I feel like Carolina fits the program,” McGowan said, before the Charlotte Rivals 3 Stripe Camp presented by adidas at Nation’s Ford High School.

The 6-foot-4, 330-pound 3-star offensive guard in the 2020 class originally committed to UNC on Feb. 1. McGowan, who attends Charlotte Catholic High School in Charlotte, NC, was recruited the hardest by new offensive line coach Stacy Searles and co-defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen.

One major factor in McGowan’s decision to commit to the Tar Heels was his relationship with both coaches, who attracted the talented 3-star in-state lineman to Chapel Hill because of their emphasis on things other than football. And now that he’s been a part of the family, so to speak, for some time, McGowan’s relationship with the staff has gone to another level.

It’s even more personal and about much more than just football. The bond is strengthening.

“They ask me questions that other college coaches haven’t asked me which is books and stuff like that, what I want to major in and all that,” he said. “I think that’s different from everybody else.”

In the almost six months since Mack Brown’s return to UNC, the Hall of Fame coach has put a major emphasis on rebuilding the family-like atmosphere his program had back in the 1990s. And, despite being in the early stages of the rebuild, McGowan’s already noticed the different vibe between Brown’s staff and the previous.

“It’s big up there. It’s really big and I love that because I want to be a part of a family,” McGowan said.

McGowan has a lot of friends at UNC, too, so he’s comfortable being around the program and on campus whenever he makes the trek. Just being a part of the campus, the student body and being one of everyone - “just ready to be a part of that” – once he eventually enrolls if what McGowan is all about.

Currently, the Tar Heels’ 2020 class has eight total commitments, including McGowan, and is ranked No. 9 nationally. If that ranking stands by the time the recruitment period is over, Brown’s first full recruiting class will be the highest ranked class UNC’s had in 10 years.

While the amount of talent going into Chapel Hill should excite everyone in and around the program, McGowan and his peers still have one more season of high school football remaining. Regardless, the rising senior can’t wait to put on that Carolina blue jersey and play in Kenan Stadium when the time comes.

“It’s gonna be exciting,” McGowan said. “I’m excited, I’m ready to get out there (and) get up there with them.”

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