About 11 miles west of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip stands 3-time national champion and Nevada high school football powerhouse Bishop Gorman, which currently boasts dozens of Division 1 prospects as well as seven 4-stars.
Walking into the Fertitta Athletic Training Center, the multi-million dollar home of Gorman Gael football, most visitors would mistake it for a college facility, perhaps the namesake building down the road at UNLV.
Buckeye Scoop was recently greeted by Sheva “Coach Va” Branch, father of top-ranked Ohio State targets Zion and Zachariah Branch and co-founder of nearby Game Changers Sports Academy, as the varsity Gaels finished a team lift and began to suit up for a walk-through.
2022 4-star defensive back Zion Branch has totaled 43 offers. He is the #1 prospect in Nevada and the 50th-ranked player in the country. The elder Branch took a visit to Ohio State on June 4th and later named the Buckeyes to his top-5 on July 10th.
“I definitely talk to Coach [Matt] Barnes and Coach [Ryan] Day the most,” Zion told Buckeye Scoop. “Ohio State has an elite coaching staff. They’re always reaching out, seeing how I’m doing and how [Gorman] is doing, and I appreciate that.
“Now that I’ve narrowed it down to my top-5, it’s all about building deeper relationships with each coach, really getting to know them on more of a personal level instead of talking business.”
The elder Branch still plans to sign early on December 15th, waiting to announce until the Under Armour All-American Bowl on January 2nd.
As for Zachariah, the process is just getting started. A 2023 4-star wide receiver, the younger Branch brother has amassed 22 offers, but beginning September 1st, college coaches were able to start contacting him.
“It was very exciting,” Zachariah told BuckeyeScoop, “Seeing all the different coaches and schools reaching out, I mean, it was shocking. Over 100 texts, so it was exciting to get that process started. Ohio State was actually the first school to reach out so that was pretty cool too.”
USC, Michigan and Ole Miss followed suit shortly after.
When asked who his primary contact at Ohio State was, Zachariach stated, “Coach [Brian] Hartline reached out first, and then a little bit later Coach [Ryan] Day sent me a message.”
“They actually offered me when I was on my brother’s official visit. I took an unofficial at the same time and was with Coach Hartline. He told me I had earned an offer,” Zachariah said, “It was pretty cool to get offered while I was on campus.”
Zion named his top-5 on July 10th, which included Oklahoma and USC, as well as Ohio State. He will take his final official visits to Alabama and Clemson, the remaining schools in his top-5, in November.
“I’ll probably tag along on those two visits that [Zion] has planned in November, but hopefully I’ll get out to a few other games as well,” Zachariah said.
For now, the younger Branch brother doesn’t have any visits set in stone, nor does he have a commitment timeline. The key to obtaining both commitments is their ability to develop as players.
“I still have a lot to work on, and whichever school can prepare me the best to pursue my goal of playing in the NFL is where I’ll play in college,” Zion explained.
The younger Branch agrees.
“We both want to make it to the league. The school that is going to develop us on and off the field the best is where we’ll go,” Zachariah added, “We pretty much have talks every night about it. It’s great to be involved in his process, basically narrowing down our choices together, because we know we want to play together in college.”
“I’m like the guinea pig in this whole process, which is tough, but it’s good for [Zachariah] to be involved because if it’s the right fit for both of us, we definitely want to stick together,” said Zion.
For now, the brothers are preparing for a matchup against Lone Peak (UT) this Saturday, followed by a trip to Arizona to take on Hamilton.
“We’re just taking it one week at a time, trying to get closer to taking back the state championship and hopefully pushing for a national title,” said Zion.