After an official visit to California this past weekend, one of the fastest players in Southern California signed with the Golden Bears early Wednesday afternoon.
"The school is really, really renowned worldwide, and I got to know the coaches over my official visit," said Lancaster (Calif.) Paraclete cornerback Branden Smith, while on FOX Sports West. "It just seemed like a really good fit for me."
Also a member of the school’s track team, Smith holds school records for the 60 meters (7.04), 100 meters (10.67), 200 meters (21.57 wind-aided) and was a as part of a record-setting 4x100 meter relay team (42.41).
Smith joins former Paraclete teammate Melquise Stovall, though on the opposite side of the ball.
"Branden Smith is a high level athlete with a ton of speed and is making plays at receiver, corner and in the return game," said Scout West Coast Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins. "Smith has stepped up his game this year in a big way and is a legitimate high Div I prospect as a shut down corner or big play receiver. At receiver, he's an explosive kid who can get deep and runs very well after the catch. Defensively, he shows natural cover skills, breaks very well on the ball and has good ball skills as well. As a junior, Smith might have been better known for his work on the track. He had season bests of 10.67-100m and 21.57 in the 200m with both marks among the top 15 in the state."
Smith has been an all-purpose athlete for Paraclete the past three seasons. He's ripped off 1,624 all-purpose yards, and made 68 tackles, five interceptions and defended 22 passes in his career.
As a senior, he helped lead Paraclete to a 3-AA California state title after an 0-3 start, setting career highs on both offense and defense. He caught 38 balls for 317 yards, and racked up 38 tackles, 11 passes defended and four picks on defense.
“Branden has the ability to make plays and did so often as a prep while seeing plenty of action on both sides of the ball and special teams," said Bears head coach Justin Wilcox. "He is gifted with incredible speed that makes him an attractive option at several positions. We’ll take a look at him in a lot of different place and see where he can contribute the most to our football team.”