Zachariah Branch joins USC track and field team

On3 imageby:Erik McKinney02/08/24

ErikTMcKinney

USC star wide receiver and return specialist Zachariah Branch will participate with the Trojans’ track and field team this spring, according to a post from the program.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound freshman is coming off an impressive first football season with the Trojans. He became USC’s first-ever true freshman First Team All-American when he earned that designation as a return specialist.

As an offensive weapon, he caught 31 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing nine times for 70 yards and another score. And he was dynamic as a returner.

He finished the regular season leading the nation in punt return average, at 20.6 yards per return. He is second overall in combined kickoff and punt return yardage and returned both a kickoff and punt for a score this season.

Since 1971, Branch is just one of three USC players to score a touchdown on a punt return, kickoff return and reception in the same season. His kickoff return touchdown covered 96 yards against San Jose State and his punt return touchdown was a 75-yarder against Stanford.

Branch’s speed has always been evident and he gives plenty of credit to his father, Sheva Branch, who is a performance coach. Branch brought plenty of track and field accolades with him to USC. He was the Nevada Southern 5A Regional champion in the 100, 200, and long jump as a sophomore in 2021. His personal best of 10.33 in the 100 came that spring at the BYU High School Invitational. That’s the same event in which he ran his 200 PR of 21.01.

Branch isn’t the only USC football player who will be doing two-sport, double-duty this spring. In fact, he isn’t even the only USC true freshman wide receiver.

True freshman wide receiver Duce Robinson came to USC with plans to play both football and baseball. He confirmed during the season that those plans are still in place. It’ll be worth watching how those two split their time between sports and if there’s any overlap for them to participate in spring ball as well. The Trojans had another two-sport standout in Austin Overn arrive with plans to play football and baseball. But his freshman baseball season went so well he moved to that sport full time.

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