Heels Want Payton

North Carolina is fervently searching for tailbacks as Signing Day is less than two months away. On Monday, UNC coaches took a long look at two Hargrave prospects. On Tuesday, they checked in with Fork Union's Bryan Payton, who already holds an offer from the Tar Heels.

Ever since FUMA's scrimmage with the UNC JV team earlier this year, Carolina has coveted Payton, who hails from Fort Wayne (Ind.) Concordia Lutheran.

"They said, ‘This is the guy we want,'" FUMA coach John Shuman said he was told by the UNC coaching staff following that game. "We're trying to keep Coach [John] Bunting happy. This could be the third year in a row that we've placed somebody with UNC."

(Of course, Inside Carolina reported on Wednesday that FUMA cornerback Jermaine Strong had recently committed to the Tar Heels.)

Payton, at 5-9, 195 pounds, led Fork Union in rushing this past year, scoring seven touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes.

"He reminds me of Natrone Means," Shuman said. "He's compact, strong, fast. He can outrun you, run through you and he can catch the football."

Shuman said that Payton had to "clean up some academics," thus his decision to prep at FUMA. But he went on to say that Payton is "well on his way towards getting that done."

Currently, Payton lists his favorites as Purdue, North Carolina, Clemson, Toledo and Ball State, with offers from Ball State, Kent State, UNC, Clemson and Toledo.

He will take an official visit to Chapel Hill the weekend of Dec. 17. Payton could enroll in college as early as this spring.

"North Carolina is up there pretty high, and so is Purdue," Payton told Scout.com. "I could probably enroll in January, but that is up to my parents. We'll see what happens after I talk to them."

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