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East Bay's KJ Sails blazes a trail at UNC

KJ Sails initially tried to fool folks into thinking he had picked Cincinnati before going with North Carolina.
KJ Sails initially tried to fool folks into thinking he had picked Cincinnati before going with North Carolina.
Published Feb. 4, 2016

Three-star cornerback KJ Sails marched into East Bay's media center Wednesday sporting a flat-billed Cincinnati hat, cocked to the side, and his usual wide grin. But even though he was representing the Bearcats at the start of the Indians' signing day ceremony, it didn't take long into the festivities for Sails to admit that he was destined to be a Tar Heel all along.

When it was his turn, Sails thanked the crowd in front of him before whipping out a UNC hat from underneath the table. He signed moments later, alongside teammates Gaej Walker (Western Kentucky) and Trey Fullwood (Coffeyville Community College).

"I feel like you've got to have fun with it," Sails said about his prank.

Sails was a three-year starter at East Bay, racking up more than 1,200 all-purpose yards as a senior and recording 21 tackles on defense.

But the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder didn't start his high school career on top.

"When I met KJ, he was a 135-pound freshman," coach Frank LaRosa said. "He walked into the weight room and he was what KJ is, definitely not short of confidence and he talked a lot."

As Sails grew, so did his interest from colleges. Sails received nearly 40 offers, and last fall he verbally committed to Iowa. Shortly after, though, he reopened his recruitment.

And on Jan. 24 he took a visit to Chapel Hill on somewhat of a whim, he said, and immediately fell in love. Sails said he was drawn to coach Larry Fedora's enthusiastic personality, and he's excited about the direction in which the Tar Heels, who competed for an ACC championship last season, are headed.

Sails will be just the second Hillsborough County player to join the UNC squad -- Armwood's Mywan Jackson played at UNC for three seasons before transferring -- in the past decade, but he hopes he's just the first of many to come.

"We're going to start a pipeline, and we're going to get this thing rolling," Sails said. "FSU, Clemson, Miami, all I have to say is, we coming."


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