Illinois defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson is trying to open up a pipeline to his home state of California. This weekend, the Illini will host a Golden State prospect who could start it.
"They are really excited for me to come to Illinois because I haven't been up there before," Branch said. "I'm just looking to see how comfortable I am with everybody and just the feeling I have overall."
Branch likes what the Illini coaches, who are looking to add immediate impact cornerbacks, are selling so far.
"The coaches told me they feel like I could come in and compete for early playing time," Branch said. "No other schools are really recruiting me as hard as Illinois. I haven't taken another official visit yet."
Illinois is the only power-five program so far to offer Branch, who also holds offers from Hawaii and Ball State. While Pickett is committed to Oregon -- which he has called his "dream school" -- Illinois will convince him otherwise and try to convince Branch and Pickett to remain teammates at Illinois.
"It's going to be fun to see what it would feel if we both went there," Branch said. "I'm looking for a program with good academics and a place I have a good relationship with the coaches."