Branch had an exceptional football and track career at Houston Worthing in the Prairie View Interscholastic League. Branch was a two time all-district pick and made honorable mention all-state as a senior. As a junior he set a PVIL state record with a 9.3 time in the 100-yard dash and helped Worthing tie for the 4A track title. At the state finals as a senior, he won the 220 in 22.1 and finished second in the 100. He later played football at Wharton Junior College and was the national juco champion in both the 100 and 220. After two seasons at Colorado, Branch was drafted by Oakland and spent 14 seasons with the franchise, catching 501 passes for 8,685 yards and 67 touchdowns. The four-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro also was a starter on all three of the Raiders' Super Bowl champions (1977-81-84), and has been a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.