Today is a great day to wish Alan K. 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 K. 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. Yes, 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.
The 2005 season was a breakout year for Alan K. Branch. He started the last ten games of the season and played in all twelve games. Alan made thirty-one stops (15 solo and 16 assists), 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, returned 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. He still recorded twenty-five tackles, had five tackles for loss along with two sacks. Branch also broke up one pass, intercepted another, caused two fumbles and recovered two more. Bottom line, Alan Branch 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 K. Branch skipped his senior year and was drafted to play in the National Football League. Here are some Michigan Football “firsts” that connect Alan Branch and Wolverine Football.
- Alan Branch played in the first two games ever played against San Diego State and Texas during the 2004 season. Michigan defeated San Diego State in September 2004 by a score of 24-21. The Wolverines lost to Texas in the Rose Bowl (37-38) in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2005.
- Branch played in the first ever game against Northern Illinois on September 3, 2005. Michigan won by a score of 33-17.
- Alan Branch also played in the first, and only, back-to-back overtime wins over the same team (MSU) in 2004 and 2005. Go Blue!
- Finally, Branch played in the first, and only, game ever against Ball State in 2006. (Michigan won that one by a score of 34-26.)
Yes, Alan K. 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. He played on Michigan’s last conference championship team in 2004. (Yes, that is a very, very long time ago for Michigan fans!) He is a two-time Super Bowl Champion and still plays for the New England Patriots. 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!