Summer is underway for the Trojans, which means the rest of the USC High School 2022 signees will be enrolling on campus in the coming weeks. Here we take a look at each of the incoming USC rookies and their potential impact this fall. The series returns with a great safety pickup. All rankings are generated via the 247Sports Composite unless otherwise stated.
ranking: Overall View #58, Security #6
Statistics: 42 tackles, two TFL, seven pass breakups
It’s been a fairly seamless transition for Lincoln Riley and his new staff, with the recruitment of blue-chip Security Division Zion, a prime target for the last USC staff and Riley’s Oklahoma staff. Riley’s hiring was the final nudge Branch needed to put USC ahead of Ohio State, who took the lead in their recruiting after the turmoil in the Trojans’ 4-8 season. Branch is one of the gems of the 2022 high school class, the second-highest prospect with a strong chance to play right away in a defense that needs more talent. At least that’s the expectation. Like Bishop Gorman teammate Fabian Ross, Branch has a head start with his development from the national prep program.
Many new faces will be coming to campus over the next few weeks, most of them prospective students. But Branch is one of the more exciting newbies in this class as he can come in and play from the jump. USC has plenty of security options to work with in 2022 thanks to a plethora of signers in 2021, some transfer pickups and returning Freshman All-American starter Calen Bullock. There are no slam dunk starters outside of Bullock, with Xavion Alford (injured in the spring), Latrell McCutchin and Xamarion Gordon being the top contenders for that other spot. Branch certainly has the talent to throw himself into the competition once he arrives.
Branch has the disadvantage that enrollment takes place in the summer and not in the spring, so there is some catching up to do with the regulation. Unless there’s a delay in Branch taking over defense, I’d have a hard time saying Branch isn’t playing in 2022 and has a really good shot to at least get down the two deeps and maybe start similar to Bullock at some point promotion last season. Branch will be one of the most physically impressive (arguably) defenders on the team in 2022… as a true freshman. let that sink
Punter Atticus Bertrams
Outside linebacker Garrison Madden
Edge rusher Devan Thompkins
Cornerback Fabian Ross