BIO: Class 4A Mr. Football semifinalist in Tennessee as a senior, an award that combines athletic and academic achievement • Twice named the Leaf-Chronicle’s Offensive Player of the Year • Selected to the Toyota East-West All-Star Classic, the premier high school all-star game in Tennessee • Earned MVP honors in the all-star game • Rated the No. 4 running back in Tennessee, No. 26 in the South and No. 54 in the country by Scout.com • Considered the nation’s No. 41 running back in the 247sports.com composite rankings • Listed as the No. 22 player in Tennessee and the nation’s No. 60 running back by ESPN.com • Rushed for more than 1,852 yards on 213 carries as a senior • Had 22 rushing touchdowns and averaged 9.1 yards per carry • Gained 2,595 rushing yards, which broke the city's all-time single season mark, and scored 27 rushing touchdowns as a junior • Averaged more eight yards per carry and 215 yards per game • Rushed for more than 100 yards in 11 of 12 games that season • Helped lead Kenwood to the second round of the state playoffs as a junior • Was a Tennessean All-Midstate first-team running • Scored 53 touchdowns during his prep career via rushing and receiving
LEAD UNC RECRUITER: Chris Kapilovic
RECRUITMENT: In late June, Branch committed to Purdue over a handful of primarily Group of 5 programs. After eclipsing the 200-yard mark in five of his first eight senior season games, offers from Iowa, Iowa State, UNC, and Wisconsin arrived. At about the same time, Purdue fired its head coach. The situation resulted in official visits to Wisconsin in October and UNC in November. During his Chapel Hill stay, he switched his commitment to the Tar Heels.
WHY CAROLINA: "Definitely the town, the people, the coaches. It's a family-oriented program. It's a great coaching staff, great players. And then [my] family ties to North Carolina. And the situation is amazing. I just felt it was the place for me. … I talked to Coach [Larry] Porter since they offered every day. We've been talking about more than just the football aspect. Of course the football is great -- the statistics speak for themselves. But, we've been talking about life. And we've been building a great relationship. And then I went up to go [officially] visit. Great relationships were built. I just knew that I felt the most comfortable in that situation."
EVALUATION: At 6-feet and 200 pounds, Antwuan Branch is a big finesse ‘back. Although he has power, he prefers to sidestep defenders than to run them over. His power – which is generated from the nonstop churning of his legs – is primarily used to run through arm tackles. However, if need be, he’ll drop his shoulder and plow through contact. As a senior, he was highly productive for a three-win team.
HS COACH QUOTES: “He has a motor that does not quit. That's part of the reason why we ran him so much. We had something that was working for us offensively and teams weren't stopping it, for the most part, so we kept at it. And Antwuan wanted the ball. He wanted that responsibility. Some guys shy away from it. He didn't." — Brian Beaubien, Kenwood HS (Leaf Chronicle)
UNC HC LARRY FEDORA QUOTES: "Antwuan is a big bruising back who has really good feet. Just excited to get him. He’s a really bright kid with a great personality. It was a lot of fun recruiting him."
INSIDE THE COMMITMENT: Branch not only watched North Carolina lose a nationally televised Thursday night matchup to archrival Duke in person, but he did so in Wallace Wade Stadium while on his UNC official visit … Read the full subscriber-only report
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