Former University of Louisville football All-American Deion Branch (2000-01) was never afraid to travel the extra mile on the field during his outstanding career with the Cardinals, and his successful run as one of the most talented receivers in the National Football League.
After leaving UofL in 2001 as the No. 65 pick in the second round of the NFL Draft, for the first time in his life, Branch left some unfinished business off the field with the Cardinals.
The native of Albany, Georgia, definitely fulfilled his goal of playing in the league with the New England Patriots, but the 40-year old will achieve an even bigger accomplishment when he walks across the stage to earn his bachelors of arts degree after leaving the school more than 18 years ago.
Branch and other UofL graduates will participate in commencement ceremonies at the KFC YUM! Center on Dec. 13.
“Graduating from the University of Louisville has been a dream and goal of mine since I transferred from Jones Junior College back in 1999,” Branch said. “This means so much to me in many ways. Not only has it been a goal for me, but mainly a major goal for my parents.”
Branch will officially earn his communications degree as part of the Cardinal Degree Completion program, established to assist returning student-athletes that exhausted their athletic scholarship eligibility, with the costs of full or part-time tuition and books associated with completing their degree.
“Completing my degree is also a major task for me, to show and prove to my kids, that any and everything is possible once you set your mind on doing something,” Branch said. “Walking across the stage knowing that my entire supporting cast, which includes by wife and young kids, will be there to celebrate this very special day means the world to me. Without my supporting cast, none of this would be possible and I love them for taking this wonderful journey with me.”
Branch was an all-conference wide receiver for the Cardinals from 2000-01 where he led the Cardinals to consecutive Liberty Bowls. He was recently selected inducted into the Kentucky Hall of Fame in June.
Branch was drafted in the second round by New England, and played 11 seasons for the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. He earned MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX with the Patriots with 11 catches, 133 yards (tied as the most Super Bowl receptions at the time). He played in 140 NFL games with career totals of 518 receptions, 6,644 yards and 39 touchdowns.
Branch will be one of eight former UofL student-athletes to earn their degrees through the program next weekend. Including Branch seven other Cardinals will walk across the commencement stage: Sam Bordner – Baseball (2016-18); Colby Fitch – Baseball (2015-17); Tyler Fitzgerald – Baseball (2017-19); Liam Jenkins – Baseball (2018); Daniel Johnson – Men’s Soccer (2015-16); Michael McAvene – Baseball (2017-19); Benjamin “Riley” Thompson – Baseball (2017-18).