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Football: Two-minute drill with UL CB Justin Branden

Joshua Parrott • jparrott@theadvertiser.com • August 19, 2008

After helping Pearl River Community College in Mississippi win two state titles and one national championship, Justin Branden arrived at UL with big expectations for his junior season.

 

Branden dressed for all 12 games last year but saw time in only six games at cornerback and on special teams.

Now he’s ready to close out his Ragin’ Cajun career with a breakout senior season. Branden entered fall camp atop the depth chart at cornerback.

The New Orleans native recently talked with The Daily Advertiser about his family, where he considers home and his future.

Question: What do you love the most about the game of football?

Answer: I like the camaraderie. My family is in California and Texas. Football is my family whenever I’m away from them. The best part about this game is that one-on-one competition on the corner. That’s what it’s all about.

Q: You were born in New Orleans, lived in California, played high school and college football in Mississippi but list your home town in the 2008 media guide as Midland, Texas. Which of those places do you consider home?

A: Picayune, Miss., is home. That’s where I became who I am today. My stepdad worked in New Orleans at the post office, and he commuted every day from Picayune. Hurricane Katrina damaged the post office where he worked, so they had to relocate him for his job. Eight months later our house was sold, and we moved to Midland right after the hurricane. That was during my first year of college.

Q: Last season you made six solo tackles and played in six of 12 games for the Cajuns. What did you work on improving the most during the offseason?

A: Speed, speed, speed. I went to an acceleration camp in Texas. They had us hooked up to a special treadmill. It was pretty cool.

Q: At UL you wear No. 3. Why did you pick that jersey number?

A: I wore No. 6 in high school, but after college I wanted to wear 15 because of my little sister. She wasn’t expected to make it past 15 months, and at that time she was about to make it to 15 years old. But when I came here No. 15 was taken. I bounced around from number to number and got 3 this year.

Q: A lot of times, cornerbacks are one-on-one against wide receivers. How much confidence do you need to be a successful corner?

A: You’ve got to know that your coach prepared you for that one-on-one situation, even though it’s that’s not always going to be the situation. It is confidence and cockiness. Everybody says the cornerbacks and receivers are the pretty boys on the team. That’s just how it is out there.

Q: You played at Pearl River Central High and Pearl River Community College in Mississippi. How did you end up at UL?

A: I signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast out of high school and went through the summer workouts. Then I missed a practice because it wasn’t posted. They were going to redshirt me to discipline me. I decided I could go home and get redshirted. (Pearl River) welcomed me. I did my 2 1/2 years there. Tulsa, Southern Miss and Southern offered, but Tulsa had a coaching change. I was thinking about playing Division II ball in Texas, but my parents went to school (at UL). My mom told me to try Lafayette.

Q: Most athletes pattern their game after their favorite player. Which player do you admire?

A: When I was in high school it was Antrel Rolle. He didn’t cover all the way down the field. He beat up receivers at the line. That’s who I wanted to be.

Q: You’re a general studies major at UL. Any idea what you want to do after football?

A: With my credits from junior college everything didn’t transfer, and some classes didn’t count. So I went from kinesiology to general studies and I’m going to try to go to sports management now so I can graduate with that. I want to coach younger kids out in Texas.