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Chargers 2023 UDFA Profile: C Johari Branch

Branch was the No. 2 JUCO guard in the country before joining the Terps.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Northwestern at Maryland Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Johari Branch is a native of Chicago, Illinois where he starred at Phillips High School on both the offensive and defensive lines. Following his prep career, Branch went on to play for nearby Eastern Illinois University where he started six games as a true freshman during the 2017 season.

After just one year, however, Branch decided to go the junior college route by transferring to Independence Community College for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. After winning the 2019 Jayhawk Championship, Branch would sign with Maryland as the No. 2 rated JUCO offensive guard in the country.

His first season with the Terps was unfortunately the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The Big Ten schedule was just five games, but Branch started in all five from the jump of his time in College Park.

During his final two seasons at Maryland, Branch started 25 games with 17 starts at guard and eight at center, all of which came during his senior campaign. Following his final season, Branch was invited to play in the 2023 East-West Shrine Game.

As an athlete, Branch is unfortunately limited. His relative athletic score ended up being near the bottom with a 2.40. His worst marks came in the 40-yard dash (5.50), the vertical (24.5”), and the short shuttle (4.99). While the first of those three tests doesn’t necessarily correlate well to successful offensive line play, the latter two definitely do. The short shuttle correlates to the lateral agility necessary to pull efficiently while the vertical exemplifies his lower-body explosiveness used when come off the line of scrimmage.

As it stands, the Chargers would never keep more than two centers on the active roster and with Zion Johnson having the versatility to play the pivot in a pinch, I just don’t think there’s any shot at Branch cracking into the active roster, and that might go for the practice squad, as well.