Ron Lippock talked with former RMU alum Marcelis Branch, who signed a futures/reserve contract with the Steelers in January. Branch originally signed as a UDFA with the Falcons after graduating from RMU in 2017.
First, can you talk a bit about why you signed with Pittsburgh – how did that occur?
Well, I was released by Atlanta after my last preseason game. I was training since then waiting for an opportunity. I went in to Pittsburgh for a workout in January and they signed me then. A scout did the first half of the workout and Tomlin the second half.
What have you been doing to get ready – and has anyone helped you over the offseason? What are your expectations for the season?
I’ve been working on learning the plays and system mostly. The coaches haven’t gotten into my role yet and what they expect from me. Everybody here has been helpful. From the kitchen staff and equipment guys to the coaches.
I was training at Georgia Sports Performance and have a defensive backs coach – Oliver Davis – that I’m working with too.
My goal is to make the active roster. As a safety or corner – I can play both. Wherever they need me I’ll be ready!
What did playing in Atlanta help teach you about the game?
I think the speed. You practice at such a high tempo in the NFL. The speed of the game -and the intensity too.
Is it more pressure coming in from a local school like RMU? Who at RMU really helped you get this far?
No – I’m just more excited because of it. Being from a smaller school – not many make it to this level. So I’m excited to get here and represent RMU.
My head coach, John Banaszak was a former Steeler and helped me. The defensive coordinator Scott Farrison helped me from the mental aspect and the defensive backs coach Bill Hurley helped too – and he played for the Steelers back in the day. He helped me on reading plays and formations.
Does it help you, having gone to college in the area? And do you think that will help you mentor other guys in camp?
I think it does — some parts are like deja vu — I’ve been here before. It helps in not getting overwhelmed, because I know the city.
As far as helping other guys – of course. I’ll help anyone I can.
What separates you from the other guys and helps you make the team?
My intensity and motor. I go full speed 100% of the time. My mentality – the way I approach each play. I treat it like I’m a warrior and the game is a war. When I line up against the man across for me, I always expect to come out on top.
You likely will make the team in part due to special teams play. What’s your experience there?
I love special teams. I played on special teams all four years in college – kickoff returns and punt returns. I can play wherever they put me and need me.
Any interests outside of football you can share?
Outside of football? I’m in to fitness – I like lifting weights. I like to play video games too and watch Anime – Dragon Ball Z and that kind of stuff. And I love pancakes.