Zachariah Branch is down to four schools.
The five-star 2023 wide receiver, one of Ohio State’s top targets at the position, put out a final four list of Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma, and Alabama on Wednesday evening. Coincidentally, it was the same night the 5-foot-9, 172-pound slot receiver was upgraded from a four- to five-star recruit by 247Sports, along with fellow 2023 wide receiver target Carnell Tate.
OSU visited Branch in his home Tuesday evening, while USC was at his residence on Wednesday evening. In an official capacity, both schools were there to recruit Zachariah’s elder brother Zion, a four-star safety, as in-home visits are currently only allowed with 2022 recruits. But it’s not like Zachariah was going to go hide in the closet or something.
"It was definitely exciting to be able to sit down, talk with them and for them to open up to our family," Zachariah told 247Sports this week of his visit with Ohio State. "It was great to continue to break down how they see us in the system as well. It wasn't just football; they were talking about what they did after college and some of the things they were interested in throughout their careers. It was interesting to get to know them more as a family and it's always good to just get to know these coaches as people.”
Nevertheless, the prospects of landing either Branch appear to be decreasing. Three 247Sports Crystal Ball projections were put in Wednesday for the younger Branch to head to USC, while four predictions were pointed in USC’s direction for Zion as well. But Ohio State’s greatest peer recruiter is trying his best anyway.
Lauck picks up OSU offer
All throughout the summer and into the fall, 2023 three-star Indiana offensive lineman Trevor Lauck hoped for an offer from Ohio State.
Lauck's wish became a reality on Thursday when Ryan Day himself extended an offer to the Indianapolis-based Lauck.
After a great conversation with Coach Day, I am excited to receive an offer from THE Ohio State University. Thank you @ryandaytime, @CoachStudOL, @OSUCoachKDub, @CoachCookOL, and all the staff! @SWiltfong247 @AllenTrieu @jrody25 pic.twitter.com/Y2oIU7EjwA— Trevor Lauck (@TrevorLauck) December 2, 2021
Lauck camped with OSU over the summer, then returned to Columbus in July for the Buckeye Bash & BBQ. He took a game day visit to OSU on Nov. 20 when the team played Michigan State.
“I think they think I fit their play style,” Lauck said told Eleven Warriors in August. “Obviously I’m big, but I think I’m quick for my size.”
Lauck currently has 13 Division I scholarship offers, including Cincinnati, Michigan State, Iowa and Kentucky.
Growing up, Lauck rooted for two teams: Indiana and Notre Dame. He cheered for the Hoosiers because it was his mother’s alma mater, while his grandfather played football at Notre Dame. He also visited both of those schools this summer and holds an offer from the Hoosiers.
Buckeyes offer Bonsu
OSU defensive backs coach Matt Barnes extended an offer to 2023 safety Jayden Bonsu on Thursday during a trip to New Jersey.
Bonsu, who does not yet hold a composite ranking, has 12 Division offers thus far, a sheet that includes Clemson, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Penn State and Boston College. In 12 games for St. Peters Prep (Hillside, New Jersey), the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Bonsu recorded 62 total tackles (7.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and eight pass deflections.
Reactions to Brown’s commitment
In case you missed it, Ohio State has a new signal-caller in its 2022 class.
The Buckeyes earned a commitment from gunslinging four-star quarterback Devin Brown on Wednesday evening, as the strong-armed QB waited only a week after he decommitted from USC to commit to the Buckeyes.
As the news of Brown’s commitment hit social media, various reactions started to pour in. C.J. “Captain Buckeye” Hicks was among the first to congratulate his fellow 2022 commit.
Welcome bro!! https://t.co/9cy63mK0uS— Bennett Christian (@BennettC87) December 2, 2021
Welcome my boi https://t.co/5cR2vu8qBo— Kyion Grayes II (@KyiongrayesII) December 2, 2021
One of the most vocal supporters of all things Ohio State on Twitter, 2023 tight end commit Ty Lockwood, chimed in, as did OSU assistant athletic director of player personnel Mark Pantoni.
Former Buckeye quarterback Joe Germaine also sent his congratulations, which is because Germaine was Brown’s high school coach at Queen Creek High School in Queen Creek, Arizona, before Brown moved to Utah for his senior season.
Congratulations, Devin! O-H-I-O https://t.co/lxXEP3I8qt— Joe (@JGermaine7) December 2, 2021
OSU continues to hit the road
Ohio State coaches are certainly putting in the miles this week. Ryan Day made a stop at the home of 2022 California four-star offensive lineman Earnest Greene on Tuesday, which made an impression on Greene's father. OSU is battling Alabama and Georgia for the commitment of Greene, who said Thursday that he would have an announcement coming on Friday afternoon.
Its really humbling when a head coach from a power 5 school comes personally to visit your son!!!!! https://t.co/88lHYvQPTD— Earnest Greene_Makin Hogs (@MakinHogs) December 1, 2021
Four-star Iowa safety target Xavier Nwankpa also received an in-home visit from Day and Matt Barnes Wednesday evening. Nwankpa will likely pick between the Buckeyes and Iowa on Dec. 8, his birthday.
But this week’s recruiting travel hasn't all been about 2022 prospects. OSU defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs stopped in Alabama on Thursday to check in on the Buckeyes' top priority at cornerback in the 2023 class, five-star AJ Harris.
Harris could commit as early as Dec. 13, his mother's birthday, or push back his commitment to January. There's reason to believe the Buckeyes are in great shape with Harris.
Meanwhile, Tony Alford traveled to Florida to check in on OSU's top 2021 running back target, five-star Richard Young.
Curry wins second state championship
Ohio State 2022 defensive line target Caden Curry has had a heck of a high school career.
In his junior season at Center Grove High School (Greenwood, Indiana), Curry helped his team complete a 14-0 season that ended with a state championship. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive lineman accomplished the same feat this year, leading Center Grove to its second-straight undefeated season with a 27-21 win over Westfield in the Indiana state championship.
In late October, Curry told Eleven Warriors he would not make a decision on his college commitment until his prep season concluded. With his high school career now over, Curry could announce his college choice within the next week or two before the early signing period. OSU is scheduled to visit him in his home Thursday evening.
Curry is ranked the 79th-best player and the 12th-best lineman in the 2022 cycle. OSU still has only one defensive line prospect committed for the 2022 class, Florida defensive end Kenyatta Jackson Jr.