The Chargers have kept a first-year undrafted defensive back after final roster cuts in each of the last three seasons. Those three have been Michael Davis (2017), Brandon Facyson (2018), and Roderic Teamer (2019). This year, the Bolts only kept three total among their 19 undrafted players. One of those hopefuls is former Western Carolina Catamount John Brannon III.
Brannon joins former Chargers running back Detrez Newsome as the second player out of WCU to get signed by the Bolts in the last three seasons.
Brannon hits those physical measurements which always peak the interest of Gus Bradley at 6’0+ and 195 pounds so it’s no surprise he was signed along with the 6’2 Donte Vaughn and the 6’0 Kevin McGill, both of whom are 200 or more pounds. Brannon’s WCU roster profile has him at 6’2, which is quite the difference, although he certainly looks really tall on film so I’m not going to argue one way or the other.
The Charlotte native was a stud on the defensive side of the ball for South Mecklenburg High School where was a two-time All-SoMeck 8 Conference selection, a Second-Team All-Charlotte Observer squad member, on top of a local publication naming him their Defensive Player of the Year in the area. As a senior, Brannon totaled 56 tackles, six for a loss, one sack, eight interceptions, and 13 pass breakups. As a junior, he originally set the school record for interceptions in a single season with another eight, giving him 16 takeaways in his final two seasons at South Meck.
Brannon did not redshirt in his first year with the Catamounts. He did only play in five games but one of those was his first-career start. He collected just four tackles during that 2016 season.
As a sophomore, Brannon started another game but found himself contributing in 11 total. Although he had just nine tackles, he made one for a loss and picked off two passes with one of those going for a pick-six. As a junior, his playing time was more of the same with two starts in 10 games but Brannon upped his tackles to 22 with two tackles-for-loss, another pair of interceptions, two pass breakups, and single forced and recovered fumble.
Brannon’s senior season was his first as a full-time starter where he began all 12 games, leading to his most-impactful year at WCU. To the tune of 55 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one pick-six, and eight pass breakups, Brannon was selected as a member of the All-Southern Conference Second Team.
So where does Brannon fit on this team, if at all? Well, from the limited amount of film I could find of Western Carolina, it looks like Brannon us surely a better fit for a zone-heavy defense over a man scheme. He likes to get his hands on wideouts and redirect their release path. He’ll fight for the ball in the air and came down with several near-interceptions that replays got wrong, but that’s just the way those things go sometimes. Sometimes though, he not only came down with it, but he’ll find his way to the end zone.
In #CatamountCountry we call that a PICK SIX. @Catamountsfb John Brannon III intercepts the pass and puts the Catamounts on the board trailing Mercer 14-7 late in the first quarter. pic.twitter.com/PWvSlKftMZ— Catamount Athletics (@Catamounts) August 31, 2019
His footwork needs some cleaning up when working from a press position and he immediately uncomfortable playing catch-up. He also struggles with getting off blocks and bringing support in the run game. Whether it was mid-major competition or a Power 5 school, Brannon’s film is sprinkled with mental lapses. He’ll need to reel those types of things in to have a shot at making this team.