5-Star WR Zachariah Branch Commits to USC over Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 24, 2021

Photo Credit: Blair Angulo, 247Sports

Zachariah Branch is following his brother Zion to USC.

After Zion Branch committed to the Trojans earlier this month, Zachariah did the same Friday.

Hayes Fawcett of On3 Sports reported the news, noting the wide receiver chose USC over Oklahoma, Alabama and Ohio State:

Hayes Fawcett @Hayesfawcett3

BREAKING: Five-Star WR Zachariah Branch has Committed to USC!<br><br>The No. 1 WR in the 2023 Class (No. 15 NATL) chose the Trojans over Oklahoma, Alabama, and Ohio State.<a href="https://t.co/fNzKgPXIbU">https://t.co/fNzKgPXIbU</a> <a href="https://t.co/OB0XT35Zka">pic.twitter.com/OB0XT35Zka</a>

The newest Trojan commit is a 5-star prospect and the No. 14 overall player, No. 2 wide receiver and No. 1 player from the state of Nevada in the 2023 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

While Zion Branch is a safety in the 2022 class, Zachariah is a game-changing wide receiver who is already drawing head-turning comparisons.   

Blair Angulo of 247Sports projected the pass-catcher as an eventual first-round draft pick and pointed to Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill as a player comparison. Those are quite significant expectations to live up to, but Branch brings impressive speed and athleticism to the table as someone who can break free for a touchdown whenever the ball is in his hands.

On3 Sports noted he won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Nevada Class 5A Southern Region track championship as a sophomore. He also captured the long jump title, further underscoring his athleticism.

This is a major victory for new USC coach Lincoln Riley before he has even coached a single game for the Trojans.

While the program is on the shortlist of the best in college football history, it has fallen on relatively hard times of late. USC was just 4-8 this season and has never been a realistic late-season factor in the College Football Playoff discussion since the postseason format was implemented for the 2014 campaign.

That stands in stark contrast to the program Pete Carroll built that would contend for national championships on almost an annual basis.

Riley's offenses were always explosive when he was at Oklahoma with quarterbacks such as Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield and Jalen Hurts leading the way. He surely pointed to some of the production from those groups when recruiting Branch and now has an elite wide receiver who can help return the Trojans to the top of the Pac-12 in the coming years.