Branch commits to CNUPublished 1:00pm Tuesday, January 28, 2014
By Matthew Hatfield
One of the top two-sport performers in Suffolk has made a decision about his college athletic career.
Nansemond River High School’s Marvin Branch, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound linebacker in football and power forward on the basketball court, has given a verbal commitment to play college football at the Division III level for the Christopher Newport University in Newport News.
By getting his decision out of the way before the arrival of spring, Branch can focus on his work in the classroom and with the Warriors’ basketball team the rest of this winter, he said.
“I feel relieved, because now I know where I’m going to be spending the next four years of my life,” he said. “I picked CNU, because that’s a big academic and me being able to get a degree from there would help a lot when starting my career after college. Being close to home was a big factor for me picking CNU. Now my parents can come to all my games conveniently. Also, they’re a program used to winning.”
Old Dominion University wanted Branch as a preferred walk-on, and he also had a visit scheduled for Shepard University set for Jan. 31. His instincts, constant motor and nonstop hustle to the football stuck out to several of the schools that expressed interest in him.
What did the coaches at CNU like most about Branch’s abilities on the football field?
“The way I never give up on plays and my ability to run sideline to sideline,” Branch said.
After missing a couple of games due to injury, Branch returned and was one of the senior leaders for the Warriors as they went on to make their first playoff trip since 1995. He was chosen First Team All-Ironclad Conference at the linebacker and utility positions, averaging nearly 10 tackles per contest for a second year in a row. As a junior, Branch was named Second Team All-Southeastern District.
Branch is considered somewhat undersized for a college linebacker, but the CNU Captains see him as a prospect who can make an impact right away and could turn out to be a steal.
In addition to being a standout on the gridiron, Branch has played a key role for Nansemond River’s basketball team, which has started the season 14-2 overall and has been ranked as high as No. 1 in the state in Group 4A.
“Basketball has helped me in football by giving me quickness and a little extra awareness,” Branch said. “I also think football helps me in basketball by me being able to be tough inside.”
Still, he believes there’s room for growth.
“A big thing I can improve on is me committing to the weight room and getting stronger,” he said.
Since their football program’s inception in 2001, the Captains have been coached by Matt Kelchner, who has gone 90-47 in 13 seasons. With nine NCAA playoff appearances, CNU has never finished below .500.
Last year, the Captains went 8-2 overall. They had 36 players from Hampton Roads on their roster.
Branch becomes the second Nansemond River football player from the Class of 2014 to make a commitment. Earlier this month, lineman Tracey Parker Jr. announced his intentions to play for Bluefield.
Branch plans to study biology in hopes of one day becoming a physician assistant. While on the road to accomplishing that, he’d like to carve out a memorable football career.
“To the CNU fans, I can promise to bring my hard-working ways to the football program and continue the winning tradition there,” Branch added.