Photo: Brian Kamer . North Gwinnett running back Donnie Miles (1) runs past Colquitt County defensive back Jamal Phillips (34) during Friday night's playoff game.
Donnie Miles could finally breathe a sigh of relief last week.
After a hectic four-month recruiting process, the North Gwinnett football player made his decision.
Miles committed to the University of North Carolina last Sunday, ending the stressful recruiting journey.
"Yes," he said with a sigh of relief. "Everything with it was stressful. The faster I got it done and not rush it, I can be a better student and football player."
Miles' commitment to UNC is not official until National Signing Day in February, but it does end the hectic process of talking to coaches, making visits and the pressure to make the right decision.
"I think UNC is the place for me," Miles said. "The coaches were honest with me and didn't play around."
Miles didn't waste any time once he got the offer from UNC. He visited the Chapel Hill school last Saturday and got an official offer on Sunday. He committed later that day.
"I went up there to visit and I fell in love with the campus and the environment up there," Miles said. "It was the best combination of coaches, facilities, players, the campus. Education is real important to me, so I went with it."
Miles also had scholarship offers from Tennessee and Duke. He visited Tennessee last month and never seriously considered Duke.
"I really liked them," Miles said of Tennessee. "But they had a different feel to them with the team, the campus and the school. It didn't compare to me."
The biggest deciding factor for Miles was education. UNC is considered one of the nation's top public colleges and universities.
"I knew it was a great education school and I heard a lot about the campus," said Miles, who maintains a 2.5 GPA and plans to major in business.
Miles' commitment to UNC continues the recent pipeline of Gwinnett players to Chapel Hill. Buford's Nathan Staub signed with UNC in February, while GAC's Shane Mularkey did in 2009.
Miles grew up hoping to play ACC football, but he thought it would for his hometown Miami Hurricanes. Miles grew up in Carol City, Fla., which 20 miles north of Miami's campus.
"I grew up watching everybody, but mostly Miami," Miles said. "I think if they would have showed interest, I would have gone there."
Miles played his freshman year at Carol City. His family moved after his ninth-grade year to get away from high crime rate in the area.
They relocated to Suwanee where Miles has flourished on the football field.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Miles has helped North to a 21-3 record the last two seasons, including two Region 7-AAAAA championships. He rushed for 674 yards and nine touchdowns as he split time with Joe Jones at running back last season. He also made 24 catches for 269 yards. Miles, who made 25 tackles and two interceptions on defense, is being recruited as a defensive back by UNC.
"Basically, I felt like it was it. I knew I wanted to go to that school," Miles said. "I know they were only going to take three DBs and they already had one committed. Being a Tar Heel is what I wanted to be."
North Carolina was 7-5 under interim head coach Everett Withers last year. Former Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Fedora was hired in December. He inherits a team that will be on three years of probation, have a loss of 15 athletic scholarships and a one-year bowl ban this season for academic fraud and misconduct. However, those sanctions did not steer away Miles.
"They got a one-year bowl game suspension and three years probation," Miles said. "The bowl ban won't affect me and the probation is minor. I feel bad for the seniors, though. By the time I get there it will be fine."