The Maxwell Football Club announced several days ago that USC punt returner and wide receiver Zachariah Branch is one of 14 semifinalists for the 2023 Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award.
Branch is currently No. 1 in the nation in combined kick returns (641). He is No. 2 in the nation in punt returns (20.6), kickoff return TDs (1), and punt return TDs (1).
The Bishop Gorman product also has two touchdown receptions this season. He is the first Trojan since Adoree’ Jackson in 2016 to have a punt return and kickoff return for a TD, as well as at least one receiving TD in the same season.
Branch needs to be a high-impact player for USC against Oregon on Saturday. The Trojans will need big plays and a lot of juice to outscore the Ducks. Oregon should score a pile of points. USC will need to match UO’s firepower, and Branch can be a central weapon for the Trojans.
The Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award goes to the outstanding freshman player in college football.
The Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award was created in 2018. It is named in honor of Shaun Alexander, a former star at the University of Alabama and the Seattle Seahawks.
Past winners of the award: Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) in 2018, Kenneth Gainwell (Memphis) in 2019, Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama) in 2020, Brock Bowers (Georgia) in 2021, and Drake Maye (North Carolina) in 2022.