For the past year the Tar Heels have had lined up 4 wonderful commits for the 2013 recruiting class. Luckily for us, however, a Syracuse decommit has decided to join them in Chapel Hill, so it’ll be our honor here at Keepingitheel to welcome young Jalen Markey to the Tar Heel Nation. Markey joins messrs Marshall, Sunol, O’Brien, and Storm in what looks to be a stellar class.
Markey comes from the Seattle Sounders Youth Academy. Unlike Marshall and Sunol who play at NC Fusion, O’Brien who comes from CASL, and Storm who plays for HMMS Eagle FC, Markey is the only UNC recruit from the west coast. And he was nearly not a Tar Heel, having initially committed to Syracuse before deciding to attend UNC.
As a player, Jalen is a center back. He’s earned a reputation for his strong physical presence and his power in the challenge and in the air. He’ll fit in ideally to the center of the Tar Heel defense, which in last season was nearly unbeatable in the air. He’ll also add an extra threat in set pieces, one of the hallmarks of a good team and a perk which could be invaluable down the stretch and in knockout scenarios. Good 4-3-3 defenses require a hard-nosed tackler to sit behind a more “liberated” center back, and I can easily see him play this role to free Boyd Okwuonu or Jonathan Campbell to join the attack.
Not to mention Markey is a U-18 national team veteran. He was skilled enough to be included on their recent tour of friendly matches in Europe, becoming a fixture in the defense.
Markey’s recruitment represents yet another coup for Coach Carlos Somoano, who not only has a monopoly on elite recruits in North Carolina, but can also call upon the CASL recruits and has even been able to capture recruits who were already previously committed. The addition of Jalen Markey to the squad adds depth to the defense and will allow the Tar Heels to maintain a skilled rotation of players along the back line as the season wears on, players go on USMNT and academy trips, and (knock on wood) players accrue injuries.