2012 Intro: Tommy Branch

WAKE FOREST, N.C. --- Given Wake Forest-Rolesville's run-dominant offense and team success, Tommy Branch's transfer into the school a year ago seemed like a match made in heaven.

Thus far, though, injuries have prevented him from taking off.

Branch suffered a partial ACL tear during his sophomore season at Southeast Raleigh. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound tailback went through rehab the following spring and was cleared for contact during the summer.

Early into the second game of his junior season, Branch suffered a severe tear to his hamstring.

"He came back out and we started to see some great things from Tommy," Wake Forest-Rolesville head coach Reggie Lucas said.

Branch returned to action a month later only to sustain an ACL tear to the same knee, which ended his junior season.

"I just wish it wouldn't have happened the way it happened," Branch said. "I think everything happens for a reason. Maybe I just needed more time to get used to the system – learn the plays and get used to the offense."

When healthy, Branch, who averaged over five yards-per-carry last season, is one of the state's top running backs.

"Tommy is a physical runner [with] great size and good speed," Lucas said. "Tommy is a strong athlete; one of the strongest kids in the weight room – bench press, power clean, squats. [He's a] very well built kid. His biggest attribute is his attitude – throughout all the injuries, he has stayed positive."

Branch is expected to be back to 100-percent for his senior season.

"Everything is going ok," Branch said. "I'm going through therapy. The doctors are saying my recovering is coming faster than when they projected it to be."

The lone bright spot of Branch's junior season was receiving his first scholarship offer from North Carolina. Although no other schools have offered, he is receiving interest from schools like Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, LSU, Tennessee, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

"Tommy has received mail from across the country," Lucas said. "I don't think there's many Division I schools that don't know about him or have him on their radar.

"Tommy right now is working extremely hard academically to make sure he's putting himself in the right situation to have the opportunity to go Division I."

Even before receiving the offer, Branch has favored UNC.

"I'm still real highly interested in North Carolina," Branch said. "Whenever I go there, it just feels like home – it's like a family. Everybody is just so close and tight. Every time I go there, the coaches and the players make me feel at home."

With the offer from his favorite, Branch says he and his father have been discussing the possibility of verbally committing.

"I think it could happen before the summer, to be honest," Branch said.

UNC is the only school that Branch has visited, but he's in the process of scheduling trips to Maryland and Virginia Tech.

Due to his size, Branch has the ability to be a big ‘back or play fullback on the collegiate level.

"When talking to Carolina, they said they like that I'm versatile and if I was to go there, they would have me at running back to run the ball but they might put me at fullback a couple of plays. But my main position would be running back."

"I think he's versatile enough to do whatever his collegiate coach wants him to do," Lucas said. "I do feel like his frame is built for a tailback.

"[Despite his size], I don't necessarily consider him a power ‘back. I think there's a big question mark on what he's going to be on the next level. I've seen speed and I've seen power – I've seen a good mix. I'm not comparing him to Herschel Walker, but just his strength and the way Herschel ran the ball with the power is what I have seen in Tommy."

Video provided by Jason Pughe of AthleteVault.com.

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