He officially visited the Tar Heels on Jan. 12 and the Gamecocks on Jan. 19. "It's dead even right now," Saunders said, ranked No. 17 by Scout.com. "I'm just taking my time and will go with my gut.
"I've been going to North Carolina for camps and basketball since I was six years old," Saunders said. "I know them really well and I like the coaches a lot. I like that they took time to show me how I'd fit in to their offense and how they'd use me. They said they'd split me out wide and that I'd be able to compete early."
Saunders says he plans to announce his decision during his team's football banquet on Feb. 5 at the Durham Marriott. After starting the year 3-4, Riverside finished 11-5 and made the state finals. Saunders finished the year with 786 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. He also had 400 yards rushing with 10 more scores.
"Both North Carolina and South Carolina have great coaches and people," Saunders said. "They are two great programs, so it's a tough choice. South Carolina has a bigger campus and it's more about football there.
"I liked getting to know all the players at South Carolina," Saunders said. "They seem to be having a lot of fun and they all had great things to say about their program. They all seem very committed."
His host during his South Carolina visit was linebacker Vandaral Shackleford. "I liked the dorms a lot too," Saunders said. "They are really nice and I like how the campus is spread out with everything revolving around the school.
"Coach (Steve) Spurrier is a straight-shooter," he said. "He doesn't blow too much smoke. The whole staff is that way."
He reports a 2.9 core GPA and a 1390 SAT (new version). Saunders is retaking the SAT on Jan 27.