"I was pretty shocked when I got it," Branch said. "I didn't know they had offered at first. When I was talking on the phone with the coaches, I thought they meant they were planning on offering me down the road.
"When I spoke with Coach Ken Wilson, though, he made it clear they had offered and I was pretty excited about it. I still have to do some research on them, but I know they're a Pac-12 school and things are looking pretty nice over there."
BRANCH IS HOPING to get out to Pullman for WSU's first junior day on March 8. If that doesn't work out, he said he will try and get out to the Palouse on a different day so he can go and check out the campus and meet in person with the staff.
"Coach Wilson said he and the other coaches think I'd be a good fit in their system," Branch said. "He wants to me go over there for an unofficial visit and talk more about the program. I know they are bringing in new facilities, so I'd like to go over there and check it out for myself."
"I'm going to try and get out to a few places this spring and summer," Branch said. "Oregon State, WSU and maybe Chicago (Northwestern campus). I'll probably go to UW again (attended junior day on Feb. 8) as well and maybe Arizona too.
"I'm going to take my time with my recruitment as well. I won't be committing any time soon. Probably not until after my senior season is over. That will allow me to take a good look at things. I want to make sure when I make my decision and commit, I only do it one time."
OVER ON OFFENSE, offensive lineman Johnston was also excited to land a crimson offer.
"I picked up that offer from the Cougars last week," Johnston said. "I called Coach David Yost and he gave me the good news and then I got in contact with Coach Clay McGuire the offensive line coach.
"We've been going back and forth on twitter and we're trying to set up a visit for me to go up there, so I can get to know WSU a little bit better."
The 6-5, 275-pounder is being recruited by the WSU staff as either a left or right tackle. Johnston said he's comfortable playing at either spot.
"They like my length and my size as a lineman," Johnston said. "I'm not just some big, fat guy like a normal offensive line (guy). I'm athletic and I can move well on my feet.
"The WSU coaches said they could see me coming into the program next year and learn the system very fast. They'd want me to redshirt like most offensive lineman do, but then have me contribute in my second year and push for a starting spot."
IN ADDITION TO WSU, Johnston holds offers from Cal and San Diego State, while Oklahoma, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and others are showing him increased interest. The Servite High standout said he's also going to take his time with his recruitment.
"I don't have any favorites right now and I'm just trying to keep my options open," he said. "It's still kind of early in the process and I want to see what offers come in. From there, my parents and I will make the best decision for me.
"I want to make sure I go somewhere I'm comfortable with too. I want to have a good relationship with the head coach and the offensive line coach. The campus environment and how close the players are with one another will be big for me as well."
Johnston added that he hasn't set up any unofficial visits yet, but as soon as he figures out the dates of spring football for his prep team, he'll plan his trips around that.
• Another prospect hoping to visit Washington State for their junior day event on March 8 is San Diego, Calif., QB Nate Ketteringham. The 6-3, 175-pounder doesn't hold a WSU offer yet, but said he has been in contact with the WSU staff and is working on setting up a trip to the Palouse.
• Encino, Calif., defensive end Brandon Lawless also informed CF.C that he will be taking a trip to Pullman on March 8 for camp. Lawless doesn't hold any offers right now, but said he is receiving interest from WSU, BYU and Wyoming. Lawless checks in at 6-3, 235-pounds.