Working hard

With only three players left at the position on the roster heading into 2008, tight end was one of the biggest needs in LSU's 2008 recruiting class. The coaches hoped to fill those needs with two homegrown products from north Louisiana and one of them was Sterlington's Matt Branch.

After a productive senior season at Sterlington High School, Branch was rewarded with many post season honors.

"I was named all-district, all-northeast, all-state, and academic all-state," Branch said. "I also played in the Offense-Defense Bowl in Fort Lauderdale."

Though his high school football career may have ended in early January, Branch (6-6, 250, 4.8) has remained busy with the workout coach Tommy Moffit sent him after signing day.

"I've been following Coach Moffit's workout and running 110's every other day," Branch said. "Coach Moffit's workout is similar to what I had been doing before. I've been lifting weights since 7th grade so nothing is new to me. I throw the shot-put and discuss for our track team too."

"I've also been going to Athletic Republic in Monroe," Branch added. "We work on footwork, agility, and speed. I work on my route running a lot with my coaches as well."

All the hard work Branch is putting in right now should start paying dividends when he arrives in Baton Rouge for summer workouts.

"I'm moving to Baton Rouge on June 7th," said Branch. "I have a 3.3 GPA and a 24 ACT so I won't have any problems with the Clearinghouse. I'm not sure who my roommates are going to be, probably Chase Clement and Tyler Edwards. I've been thinking of a few different majors, possibly pre-med."

Branch was able to fit one last visit to LSU in his schedule before officially moving down in June.

"I wasn't able to make the spring game because we had prom that night, but I did go to one spring practice," Branch said. "I definitely noticed a huge difference in the speed compared to high school."

"Practice in high school was pretty relaxed and going through the motions," Branch continued. "At LSU they're getting after it as soon as the horn blows."

Branch is hoping to get adjusted to the faster speed and higher intensity of LSU practices quickly as he is hoping to see the field next season.

"I want to play my freshman year," said Branch. "I'm going to work hard to get on the field. But if I don't make it on the field I'll redshirt, and there's nothing wrong with that.

According to Branch, the LSU coaches would like it if he was able to avoid a redshirt and see the field next year.

"They want me to come in and compete hard for the starting spot at tight end," Branch said. "They want me in the 255-260 range. They want me to fill that blocking tight end role."

There was a lot of speculation during his recruitment that Branch would be moved to offensive line. According to Branch, that move is not happening, at least not right now.

"They want me to try me tight end for right now," Branch said. "They want me to come in and fill Keith Zinger's spot. If I continue to grow I could possibly move to the offensive line in the future, but for now I'm a tight end."

If Branch does see the field next year he will be one of a select few players every year that will be able to say they played for the defending national champions as a true freshman.

And according to Branch, the true freshman at LSU next year should have that opportunity as well.

"Our goal next year should be to repeat as national champions," said Branch. "I think we will have a great team next year. We lost a few key players but we'll fill those spots really well. We just need players to step up and play to their potential. If that happens we can repeat. We are definitely capable of doing that."

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