The Wolverine

August 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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70 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2018   COMMITMENT PROFILE J ust before Michigan went on a roll adding commit after com- mit in the 2019 class following a big official visit weekend, Co- lumbus (Ohio) Northland three- star wide receiver Kalil Bran- ham became U-M's first 2020 pledge June 19. The 6-1, 190-pounder camped at Michigan, impressed the coaches, picked up an offer and committed on the spot. The way it transpired isn't typical for a kid from Columbus, but it made all the sense in the world to the No. 9 player in Ohio. "My dad said that Coach [Jim] Harbaugh told him that I was one of the MVPs at camp, and they wanted to offer me a full scholarship." Branham said. "I committed right then. My grandfather, grandmom and mom and dad are all Michigan fans. "My mom's parents are Buckeye fans though. I wear No. 2 because of Charles Woodson." Branham grew up a fan of the Wol- verines, so it would've been tough to turn down a Michigan offer. After he camped in front of the coaches and got to know some of them on a personal level, it became impossible. "Coach [Roy] Roundtree said that I will fit in well. Coach [Al] Wash- ington said that he hasn't seen a high school kid work harder than me, and Coach Harbaugh said that he loved my film from camp," Branham explained. "Coach Washington re- cruited me at Cincinnati and offered my brother also. "Coach Tree [Roundtree] is from Ohio and is just very easy to under- stand, and Coach [Jim] Mac [McEl- wain] is a mastermind." C o a c h e s l i k e M c E l w a i n a n d Roundtree should be able to get a lot of out a player who has good size, near-elite speed and plenty of raw ability. Midwest recruit- ing analyst Josh Helmholdt likes Bra- nham's game and still thinks he can get a lot better. "Branham brings a nice mix of size and speed to the position, and he is also dedicated to his craft," Helm- holdt said. "He's a player you can trust to make the plays he's sup- posed to make and be someone the defense has to always account for because they know if they do not he will make them pay." Northland head coach Brian Staats also lauds Branham for his natural abilities and thinks he'll only improve as he gets older and receives more coaching. "Kalil is super athletic and has the potential to make a big play every time he touches the ball," Staats said. "He also has great ball skills as a receiver — my challenge is actually finding ways to get him the ball. "There's no question his speed is his biggest strength on the field — he can absolutely fly." Michigan is Branham's big- gest offer to date, but it likely won't matter moving forward. Staats knew that once U-M of- fered, it would be a wrap for Branham. "Kalil has been a Michigan fan for a long, long time," Staats explained. "Michigan was also just simply the place Kalil wanted to be. I had talked to Coach Harbaugh the week prior to his commitment, and he explained to me how excited they were about him. "I told him that if they offered, he was going to jump on the opportu- nity with both feet and commit right there on the spot — which is exactly what he did." Helmholdt has a strong opinion about kids picking schools they're familiar with. The veteran analyst believes it adds to a prospect's career. "You like to get a kid who grew up following your program, knows your traditions and knows what it means to put on your jersey," Helmholdt explained. "It's obvious Kalil found the offer he was waiting on." Branham was an honorable men- tion for the Division II All-Central District team. Also a star on the track, Branham tweaked a hamstring dur- ing his track season last year, which derailed his campaign a little bit. However, as a freshman, Branham posted a 21.80 in the 200-meter dash. — Brandon Brown Kalil Branham Kicks Things Off For Michigan In 2020 Class Columbus (Ohio) Northland head coach Brian Staats on Branham "Kalil has been a Michigan fan for a long, long time. Michi- gan was also just simply the place Kalil wanted to be." FILM EVALUATION Strengths: Kalil Branham has good size and ball skills, and runs decent routes, but he scares a lot of defen- sive backs with his long stride and high top-end speed. In high school, he's a threat to go deep on every single play. Areas Of Improvement: In college, everyone else is going to be pretty fast as well, so Branham will have to really focus on winning at the line of scrimmage, getting off of jams and creating separation with crisp routes and precise movements. Michigan Player Comparison: Branham is a little more put together than Darryl Stonum was coming out of high school, and possesses similar skills. Stonum was highly coveted as the No. 41 overall player nationally and used long strides to glide down the field a lot like Branham does. — Analysis from rates Branham — a 6-1, 190-pound three-star wide receiver — as the No. 9 player in Ohio in the rising junior class. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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