"There were a lot of schools that were in the position of if [Rhodes] would have come to camp, they would have offered him," said Jason Luck, an assistant coach at Jordan.
After positive experiences at both UNC's individual and team camps, Rhodes was looking to verbally commit to UNC for the last several weeks. However, with UNC amid the regular season, Rhodes' circle played phone tag with Browning.
"[Browning] said he got my message last week but not J.R.'s [Saturday]," Luck said. "He said he tried to call J.R. [Monday] but wasn't able to get through. But then, J.R. called him back again late last night and they connected with each other."
When Rhodes and Browning finally "connected," Butch Davis and offensive coordinator John Shoop were on hand and joined in on the phone call conversation.
"[Shoop and Davis] got to talk to [Rhodes] last night," Luck said. "Coach Browning was able to talk to J.R.'s mom, as well. And they started trying to set-up getting her up for an official visit and help her try to see things a little bit more."
Rhodes' mother still hasn't visited UNC, but had a lot of her questions answered during last night's phone conversation.
Although location played a major role in his decision, the relationship and level of comfort Rhodes was able to build with UNC sold him.
"I think the big thing was the notion of family," Luck said. "When he went over there to camp, I think everything he experienced there in talking with the coaches, what was explained to him, how the program was working and continuing to work down the road – those were big things. "I also think that he just really bonded with Coach Browning. He understood that this would be ‘the guy I'm going to spend a lot of time with' and I think he felt very comfortable being in a position where this guy will be instructing him on what he needed to do."
Rhodes also liked UNC's plans for him.
"When the offensive staff talked about what they felt J.R.'s abilities were and compared it to other running backs that have played before, they made it very relatable for him and then showed how he could fit in," Luck said. "I think that very much excited him. He's not going to be in a situation where he's just going to run the ball, he's going to be able to do a lot of different things and he loves doing that."
As a junior, Rhodes rushed for 1,290 yards and 16 touchdowns on 183 carries. He also caught 19 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns, and tossed two touchdown passes.