Tyvon Branch watched the draft this weekend with his family in Cicero New York. He had hoped to maybe slip into the second round on Saturday, but had to wait through the third round on Sunday before the phone mercifully rang. Branch said he took the call from the Raiders outside, then heard pandemonium break out inside as his family watched his name scroll across the television screen.
“It was incredible,” Branch said of the moment.
The Raiders selected Branch with their second overall pick of the draft behind Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, who was taken in the first round with the fourth pick. The Raiders moved up four picks to get Branch in a trade with the Cowboys.
“It was definitely out of the blue,” said Branch on Monday. “It’s a great team. They’ve got a lot of tradition out there. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Nobody is looking forward to it more than Branch’s father, Todd Branch. Tyvon said his dad is a life-long fan of the Raiders. He said the family home is filled with Raiders stickers and blankets.
“He was happy,” Branch said of his father. “It couldn’t have worked out no better for me.”
UConn was the only Division I football program to offer Branch a scholarship coming out of Cicero-North Syracuse High School. He played in 48 games for the Huskies with 31 starts and finished with 230 career tackles. In his final college game at the Meineke Car Care Bowl this past season, Branch made a team-best 10 tackles.
Branch was voted second-team All-Big East Conference as a senior.
According to his draft profile at NFL.com, Branch had exceptional workouts prior to the draft. At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Branch turned in a 40-yard dash time of 4.31 seconds, fastest of all defensive backs. Branch was a track star at C-NS where he won New York state championships in the 100 and 200 meters.
The league Web site said, “Branch’s strong workout numbers compare to only five other players at his position and four have played in the Pro Bowl while the fifth is a quality contributor in the NFL.”
Oakland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan told the team’s official Web site at Raiders.com that Branch will play safety.
“He’s a good, solid player,” Ryan said. “You talk about his versatility and that jumps off the tapes when you watch him. He’s a hard-hitting young man who’s really fun to watch. We’ve seen about every game they played this year and really we’re excited about him. I know our special teams coach Brian Schneider is real excited about his return ability also.”
Branch figures to return kicks in Oakland. He led the Big East Conference last season in kick returns with an average of 28.89 yards per return. Branch returned two kicks for touchdowns, the first time that’s ever happened in one season by a UConn player.