USC Football Safety Zion Branch may already be miraculously healthy

Donte Williams, USC Football, USC Trojans
Donte Williams, USC Football, USC Trojans / Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

On June 29th, it was announced by USC Football Head Coach Lincoln Riley that SC Safety Zion Branch had been faced with a lower extremity injury. He was essentially out indefinitely. There was no clear-cut timetable on when Branch would be able to come back to the team.

A lower extremity injury can be serious, so it was hard to be optimistic about Branch making his Trojan debut this season. It was easy, however, to be optimistic about Branch making his Trojan debut this season on Saturday. That's because Branch (No. 8) was seen dressed on the sideline and warming up for USC prior to SC's Week 3 matchup against Fresno State.

This is a big deal because if Branch can be healthy enough to play this season for USC, that'll most certainly at LEAST be important depth for this defense. Riley had mentioned that Branch had "been extremely impressive during" summer workouts when he announced Branch's injury.

The No. 1 overall recruit from the whole state of Nevada for the 2022 class, there was a lot of excitement for him coming into the year. Not only that, but he was listed as the No. 6 safety in the country (all recruiting rankings and ratings in article are as of 247Sports). He had a real shot at legitimate playing time this year.

If him dressing means that he's good to go, perhaps Zion Branch will get meaningful playing time for USC football this season.

And sure, there were players who dressed for USC football that didn't play. Zion Branch was not the only one. Courtland Ford comes to mind, as he was dressed but did not play.

That likely means, however, that they just weren't going to be used unless it was absolutely necessary. A situation where they were dressed and ready to go if they needed it, but USC was out to so far of a lead that it wasn't necessary to bring them in. If they weren't at all healthy enough to play, why would they have dressed?

Look--if Branch can play this year, and the coaches think he's ready in his development, that would be outstanding for this secondary. Sure, USC's two starting safeties are good options in Calen Bullock and Max Williams, but SC doesn't have a lot of proven depth anywhere on defense right now.

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Getting a talent in Branch back who was expected to get time this year will put less pressure on the guys SC does currently have out there. It remains unclear if the Bishop Gorman product is ready to get after it just yet, but it's a great sign that he was dressed and warming up. If he can go, he's got a real chance of making some sort of difference on this team at some point in this season.