In an effort to sign three running backs in this class, North Carolina expanded its prospect pool at that position last week by dispersing an offer to Purdue verbal commitment Antwuan Branch.
"[The offer] came out of the blue," Branch said. "They had heard about me, I guess, this season. And then Coach [Larry] Porter and I went into more detail a little bit. And then he offered me a week after that."
UNC was a part of a wave of new offers for Branch, a 6-foot, 200-pounder from Clarksville (Tenn.) Kenwood. Iowa, Iowa State, Tulane, and Wisconsin also offered last week.
"I actually really don't know [the reason for the new offers]," Branch said. "The week before everything rolled in, I ran for 335 yards and six touchdowns. I don't know if people caught onto that or what. I really don't know what happened."
On the season, Branch has rushed for 1,622 yards and 22 touchdowns with a 9.2 yards per carry average.
Since initial contact was made, Porter, UNC's running back coach, and Branch have spoken every day. Despite the late start, that relationship is coming along pretty well, according to Branch.
"He's from Mississippi and my mom is from Mississippi, and Mississippi people connect pretty well," Branch said. "I have a great understanding of him and he has a great understanding of me."
During their discussions, Porter has made sure to bring up the dearth of bodies in UNC's running back depth chart beyond this season.
"He said it's a pretty good situation for me right now," Branch said. "They're losing two guys, which would leave two scholarship guys [at the position]. I think it's a great situation and just another thing to think about."
At the very least, the situation has Branch discussing official visit dates with Porter.
"I know I will visit them soon," Branch said. "I just don't know exactly when. I know I will visit."
Branch isn't sure if the visit will occur during or after the season.
Wisconsin began Branch's recent wave of new offers. In response, Branch officially visited Madison last weekend. His stay included watching the Badgers beat previously undefeated Nebraska.
"It was great," Branch said. "I loved it -- the atmosphere and everything that came with it."
Branch has been verbally committed to Wisconsin's Big Ten rival Purdue since June. Thus far, the visit to Wisconsin and/or the new offers haven't changed his commitment status.
"I'm still committed to Purdue," Branch said. "I'm just letting things play out how they play out."
Branch has yet to take his official visit to Purdue. Although nothing have been scheduled, he believes that trip will occur after the season.