GBW has long been singing the praises of Alan Branch. From the time we first saw him juking the socks off of Michigan State commit Eric Andino at last year’s Army All American Combine, to when we saw him on the football field in New Mexico this year, we’ve been convinced that he is a rare and special athlete. The nimbleness he possesses at his size is uncanny. We witnessed him be extremely graceful in pass rushing drills at this summer’s camp and when he maneuvered for shots or rebounds on the hardwood for his AAU basketball team. (For those that missed a few of our scouting stories on Alan, click below).
When we spoke to West coach Carl Dustafson yesterday afternoon, he unquestionably agreed with our assessment of this quiet giant. “Alan is as talented a defensive linemen as I have ever seen,” Dustafson said! “I can’t believe the size and speed he has! And the leverage he gets at that size is just plain scary!” Most can’t believe our accounts of this young man’s athleticism…and Coach Dustafson was amongst those that doubted the hype. However, you can now call him a believer! “I questioned whether he had the speed to come off the corner at that size, but I’m now convinced. There’s no question he has that ability. He’s just so quick that he surprises opposing linemen. He’s been so good that even though we’ll be flip flopping him between end and tackle, we’re going to use him most of the time at defensive end. He will be one of my starters.”
Though Alan has never doubted his own abilities, he did tell us that playing against this level of competition has been an adjustment. “It’s been great going against some of the top players in the nation,” Alan said. “It’s only going to make me better. I got a chance to face top competition last year at the combine, but there were no contact drills. This year I’m hitting. In high school I never played against anyone over 250 pounds, but every guy on the West offensive line is 300lbs or over…so I’m being tested. But I’m doing pretty well. People tend to overlook me because I’m from New Mexico, but I’m going to show my abilities while I’m here.”
Michigan obviously covets this young man, and Wolverine fans everywhere have been wondering if he’s going make his choice known during the game. He informed GBW yesterday afternoon that he would indeed be doing so. “Yes, I decided to go ahead and do it. I’m ready to get it over with. The final schools on my list are Michigan, New Mexico, Texas Tech, and Arizona State.”
GBW will report on this story as it transpires.