By: Colton Hall
After a standout, senior season things only seem to be looking up for Jeff Branch. Branch recently completed his 2nd professional football combine at the University of South Dakota. Prior to that, Branch competed at the 2017 Regional Combine in Minnesota. When asked about the combines, Branch could only smile. “I learned a lot at them. I met a lot of people, and I was a little nervous going into it, because it was something that I had never done before. It was very competitive and a very humbling experience.”
Branch lead a Saints Defense that would finish in the top 10 in many categories including: #3 in pass defense per game, #4 in Total Defense, and #7 in Scoring Defense. Branch led the Presentation College Football team in sacks and was 2nd in the NAIA with 15 quarterback takedowns. He was also 3rd on the team in tackles. “I felt that as a team, we improved dramatically. I wanted to go 10-0, but all in all the season was great. I felt that our coaches put us in the best possible position for us to make plays.”
When the dust cleared, Branch had earned many honors including: NSAA All-Conference First Team Defense, AFCA Coaches’ All-American Defense First Team, NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week, and NSAA Defensive Player of the Week. These awards were the first for any Presentation College Football player in its history.
The list of accolades goes on and on, ranging from All-American to Most Valuable Defensive Player; but with Jeff Branch, there’s more than just football. To Jeff Branch, the classroom is just as important, “growing up, I was always told that I was a student first, and athlete second.” He continued, “even when you’re tired, and you don’t want to do it (schoolwork), you have to find a way to do it. In the end, the goal is to get that degree”. Branch was also named an NSAA Scholar Athlete Award winner in both of his years at Presentation College.
Great players help to make special teams. They lead by example, and that attitude becomes contagious to the other players. Free Safety, and Teammate, Eric Bell has some good things to say about Branch. “Jeff, to me, was a great player. He made a lot of plays that contributed to our success as a team, and he made everyone around him better.” Head Football coach Andy Carr also praised Branch, “we as a coaching staff of Presentation College are extremely proud of the person and player that Jeff has become. We wish him the best good luck in this process.”
Branch praised the team, and had some advice for the newcomers for next fall. “The team definitely has a promising future. Stay hungry everybody, it’s a long season, everybody has one common goal, and everybody must be ready. GO SAINTS!”