December 29, 2016 Happy Birthday Alan Branch!

Michigan Football Team 2006 | bigbluefootballhistory.com
Alan Branch (#80) is pictured with the 2006 Michigan Wolverine Football team that finished with a record of 11 wins and 2 losses. Branch is seated in the third row and is the tenth man from the left and right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Today is a great day to wish Alan Branch a very Happy Birthday! Alan Keith Branch was born on this date in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He grew up to be a big man and an outstanding athlete at Cibola High School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. In addition to being an all-state football player, he was a three-year starter on the basketball team. Branch earned first team all-district and second-team all-state basketball honors in his senior year.

Despite his considerable basketball skills, Alan Branch’s future would be on the future field. He was listed as a five-star prospect coming out of high school. Alan was heavily recruited by many of the top programs in America. He was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Mexico in 2003. Fortunately, Lloyd Carr, and his staff, convinced him that Michigan would be the best place to take his talents.

Alan Branch was too good to red-shirt. He was on the field for all twelve games in 2004. Alan learned the Michigan defensive system by playing, not by watching. He made five tackles, recorded two tackles for loss and had two sacks in year one. It was a good start for young Alan Branch. The Wolverines did well that season too. Michigan finished with an overall record of 9 wins and 3 losses. The Maize and Blue footballers won a share of the Big Ten Championship by winning seven of eight conference games.

Rose Bowl Program 2005 | bigbluefootballhistory..com

Alan Branch and his teammates played in one of the most exciting Rose Bowl games ever in 2005. Unfortunately, Michigan lost to Texas by a score of 37-38. Picture courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

The 2005 season was a breakout year for Alan Branch. He started the last ten games of the season and played in all twelve games. Alan made thirty-one (15 solo and 16 assists) stops, had ten tackles for loss, recorded five sacks, forced one fumble and recovered another. He was one of Michigan’s most versatile defensive lineman and started games at both nose tackle and defensive end. At the end of the season, Alan earned the Dick Katcher Award as Michigan’s best defensive lineman for 2005. The only bad news for Branch was the fact that the Wolverines finished with a record of 7 wins and 5 losses and slipped to a tie for third in the conference.

Alan and his teammates came back in 2006 with great determination to improve their record and their conference status. Michigan won eleven straight games in 2006 before losing to Ohio State and Southern California at the end of the season. Alan Branch was a force to be dealt with in every game and consistently drew double-teams from the opposition. However, he still recorded twenty-five tackles, had five tackles for loss along with two sacks. He also broke up one pass, intercepted another, caused two fumbles and recovered two more. Bottom line, he was very disruptive and extremely productive on the defensive line. His exceptional play earned him All-Conference honors in 2006.

The bad news for Michigan in 2007 was that Alan Branch skipped his senior year and was playing in the National Football League. To read more about Alan’s professional career check out the links below.

Alan Branch accomplished a lot in three short years in Ann Arbor. He played in thirty-six games and recorded sixty-one tackles during that time. Branch helped the Wolverines win twenty-seven games from 2004 to 2006. Interestingly, the 2004 team was the last Michigan team to win a conference championship.  (Yes, Michigan fans, that is a very, very long time ago!) I am certain that Alan Branch is working hard with his buddy Tom Brady to get the Patriots ready for another Super Bowl run. However, he deserves a little fun too! So, today is a good day to wish a very Happy “Maize and Blue” Birthday to Alan Branch!  Thanks for the memories and Go Blue!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Branch

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/patriots/2016/12/27/high-praise-for-patriots-alan-branch/QoxwiHUwJHwLmFWxXzx9HL/story.html

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher is a self-proclaimed Michigan Football Archeologist. He spends a considerable amount of his time digging into the 138-year history of Wolverine Football. He is on a mission to share his findings with Maize and Blue football fans everywhere. He is the author of one book about Michigan Football titled "21-194-13 Michigan Football's Greatest Era". His second book titled, "The Legend of Bo Schembechler-How an Unknown Buckeye Became the Winningest Coach in Michigan Football History" was released on September 12, 2017. You can learn something about Michigan Football everyday by going to his website at: bigbluefootballhistory.com. You can also follow him on Social Media.
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