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Kalil Branham leaving UK; Joko Willis decommits

Branham was actually a four-star recruit when he initially committed to Kentucky.


The Kentucky Wildcats are loading up on new pass-catchers for next season, but they’re also losing one from their 2020 signing class.

Freshman receiver Kalil Branham is leaving the program, a UK spokesman confirmed to Cats Pause.

The 6-1, 205-pound receiver from Columbus (OH) ranks No. 634 overall and the No. 18 recruit from Ohio in the 2020 class via 247 Sports. He was actually a four-star recruit ranked No. 350 overall when he initially committed to Kentucky before dropping in the final rankings.

Branham was originally committed to the Michigan Wolverines. But after he visited unofficially for the 2019 Blue/White game, Branham re-opened his recruitment and eventually became a Wildcat. He also held offers from the Ohio State Buckeyes, USC Trojans, Tennessee Volunteers, Baylor Bears, Louisville Cardinals and Indiana Hoosiers among others.

Despite coming to UK with a lot of fanfare, Branham redshirted in 2020 and did not appear in any of the 11 games, despite the offense’s continued struggles in the passing game with few receivers stepping up outside of Josh Ali.

Not only is Ali back for 2021, but he’ll be joined by three highly-touted 2021 receivers in Chauncey Magwood, Dekel Crowdus and Christian Lewis, while Wan’Dale Robinson is transferring in. The staff is also high on firmer four-star recruit Michael Drennen, so the receiver room will be pretty crowded in 2021, even with the loss of Branham.

Shortly after the Branham news broke, UK suffered another loss in the form of 2021 recruit Joko Willis, who announced his decommitment.

Willis, one of the top JUCO recruits in 2021, plays at Independence Community College in Kansas. The three-star linebacker committed to Kentucky in May of 2020 while holding offers from the Arkansas Razorbacks, Kansas State Wildcats, South Carolina Gamecocks and Mississippi State Bulldogs.

The second-ranked JUCO inside linebacker, Willis would have filled a major need at linebacker after Jamin Davis left for the NFL Draft. Expect UK is pursue transfer linebackers, and they’re also in the hunt for uncommitted 2021 linebacker Trevin Wallace, who’s been trending toward the Cats in recent weeks.

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