Lincoln Southeast senior Derek Branch has ended his recruitment. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound defensive back announced his commitment to Cornell on Monday night via twitter.
“It was the best fit for me,” he said. “It was the first school that I ever talked to on the phone, and I have a great relationship with the coaching staff.”
That relationship and the world-class academics an Ivy League school offers were two of the biggest reasons why he chose Cornell. Branch touts a 3.99 GPA and high ACT score of 28.
“Everyone says that it is a decision that could change your kids, kids' lives with that degree,” he said. “It felt like home and a place I could see myself at.”
Branch chose Cornell over Ivy League schools Brown, Columbia and Dartmouth. Nebraska had been in contact with him, along with North Dakota and South Dakota State.
Because of the NCAA’s suspension of in-person recruiting, Branch was not able to visit the campus in Ithaca, New York. But he had multiple Zoom calls with the coaching staff.
“I was probably on six or seven Zoom calls with them,” he said. “Two weeks ago, I was on what they call a blitz with their entire staff, which is kind of like an official visit for them.”
It was during his most recent Zoom call with the staff on Saturday when he told the Big Red staff of his intentions.
Recruited as a defensive back, Branch said he will likely end up playing safety collegiately. In five games played for Lincoln Southeast (5-0), he has 29 total tackles and one interception.