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Zachariah Branch Named Semifinalist for Jet Award

Dec 4, 2023

LOS ANGELES—USC's Zachariah Branch has been named a semifinalist for the Jet Award. 

The Jet Award is awarded annually to the nation's most outstanding return specialist. A media panel made up of members of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selected the finalists.

Branch, a freshman superstar, has recorded 29 receptions for 311 yards and 2 TDs.

He is also one of the nation's most electric returners. Against Stanford on Sept. 9, he returned a punt for a 75-yard TD in the second quarter. He had a 96- yard kickoff return for a TD vs. San Jose State on Aug. 26. 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. Jackson had 2 punt returns and 2 kickoff returns for TDs and 1 TD reception during the 2016 season. 
Since 1971 (when records are available) Branch is one of just 3 USC players to accomplish the feat, joining Jackson and Curtis Conway (1992 – 1 kickoff return TD, 1 punt return TD, 5 rec TDs). Branch also had 4 receptions for 30 yards and 1 carry for 2 rushing yards against Stanford. He also has a rushing TD this season (against Utah). 
Branch finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation in punt returns (20.6), No. 2 in the nation in combined kick returns (751) and punt return TDs (1) and No. 6 in the nation in kickoff return TDs (1). In 2023, he recorded 42 kick returns for 442 yards and 1 TD, and 15 punt returns for 309 yards and 1 TD. 

The recipient of the 2023 Jet Award will be announced in January of 2024. The official presentation to the winner will be made at The Jet Award Gala in Omaha, NE., on April 4, 2024.