Kentucky has added an incredibly talented athlete to complete its arsenal of wide receivers in the 2020 recruiting class.
Four-star wide receiver Kalil Branham is ranked by 247 Sports as the No. 350 player in America and No. 61 wide receiver. The one-time Michigan commit went all-in on the Cats shortly after unofficially visiting for the spring game. Most onlookers quickly judge a player’s significance based on his recruiting ranking and offer sheet. Neither can accurately describe what Branham brings to the table.
A versatile athlete, Branham varsity lettered in four sports — football, basketball, baseball and track and field — as a high school freshman. A state champion that competed in track and field on the national level, Branham’s speed is the first thing that jumps out on his film. Speed can only you get you so far. His ability to quickly change direction and accelerate into a second gear is remarkable.
Four defenders were in position to make a play, yet even after slipping he still found a way to make them all miss.
Recruited by Vince Marrow to be Kentucky’s “next Lynn Bowden,” his high school film mirrors the UK slot receiver’s. Each did a little big of everything for their high school team — return kicks, play quarterback and catch passes. Last season Branham returned a kickoff for a touchdown, threw for a touchdown, rushed for quite a few and caught deep balls on top of opponents. The following play is the most Bowden-esque, flipping the field as the running quarterback to finish with a score.
It’s always impressive to see someone juke an entire defense, then blow by 11 guys. What makes Branham special is that he doesn’t just run around people. A 6’1″ 205-pound prospect, Branham is not afraid of contact. He uses physicality to finish plays where other slots would simply take the easy road out of bounds.
Branham could have made a nice 15-yard gain by busting it straight to the edge. Instead, he created space with a jab step, then finished with a spin off of his defender to finish in the end zone. That football IQ is rarely seen so young.
What makes Branham special cannot be seen on film. An incredibly hard worker, he catches at least 125 footballs everyday. To break up the monotony with daily training, he runs hills, jumps boxes and throws on gloves to box in his garage. The younger brother to a Division I running back — his brother John will begin his first season at Eastern Michigan this fall — Kalil’s drive will pave the way for a successful career as playmaker as a slot receiver and returner at the University of Kentucky.