You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Randolph's Jailen Branch named to college football's Good Works Team for philanthropy

Patriot Ledger logo Patriot Ledger 9/28/2022 Kevin Perrington-Turner, The Patriot Ledger

WALTHAM — Part of what makes a great athlete great is what they do outside of the lines. 

That’s why Bentley University senior defensive back Jailen Branch's actions for minority students have been seen and rewarded.

Branch is one of only 22 college football players from across the nation to be named to the 31st Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The selection highlights student-athletes for their contributions off the gridiron. Branch was one of only four Division II student-athletes to be selected.

More: Milton Academy football plotting big send-off for retiring coach Kevin Macdonald

“It’s an honor,” said Branch, "because, honestly, I don’t do things for rewards or to receive recognition for work that’s a serviceable act. But it’s honestly humbling.”

The fifth-year senior from Randolph took action years ago during a time when social injustice conversations were happening around the world.

“After sophomore year, more social justice things were happening in the world,” Branch said. “I saw that as an opportunity to take action. There weren’t actions made for people like myself. They weren’t really sensitive to the topic or knew where to get information about the topic."

More: Thayer Academy’s strong football senior class aims to mute out distractions this fall season

Branch joined with Bentley coach Alvin Reynolds and athletic director Vaughn Williams to create the Bentley Black Student-Athletes organization. Branch is the current president.

At a predominantly white school, Branch saw that as a minority student-athlete he wasn’t being properly represented.

“At the time of 2021, when we did the population count (at Bentley) there were 700 student-athletes and only 50 were of color. Of those 50, only four were black females,” said Branch. “When I saw that I wanted to make sure there was a change. Bentley offers such a great opportunity academically. I wanted to see how I can help this university grow for the better.”

Branch's bio on the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team website describes him as being "dedicated to lifting Black athletes' voices by partnering with Bentley alumni to create summer internship and mentorship opportunities. Jailen is a demonstrated leader, having acted as the Bentley football team's lead representative with Team IMPACT from 2019-21. Working with Team IMPACT, Branch helped to tackle the social isolation commonly associated with childhood illness and disability by connecting children with collegiate athletic teams."

Branch graduated from Milton Academy. When he got there, he experienced a new environment.

“At Milton Academy it was a culture shock because it wasn’t like Randolph,” he said. “A lot of rich people and preppy. They dressed different and talked different. Seeing that and not having many people like myself in a population that big, it was different, so it helped me grow.”

More: North and Quincy make the cut: South Shore top 10 high school football rankings

And grow he did. Branch arrived to the Bentley campus in 2018 at the same time Reynolds joined the coaching staff. From there Reynolds saw the leadership ability in Branch.

“I started coaching in 2018, so I played him as a freshman,” said Reynolds, who served as Bentley's defensive backs coach in 2018-19 and defensive coordinator in 2020-21 before being promoted to head coach last spring. "So that means we were able to count on him. He was accountable. He was able to show us that he was able to be counted on and I put him in the game.”

Jailen Branch, a member of the Bentley University football team, has been selected to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. Branch is from Randolph and went to Milton Academy. © Provided by Eddie Monigan/Bentley University Jailen Branch, a member of the Bentley University football team, has been selected to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. Branch is from Randolph and went to Milton Academy.

Although the award salutes his off-field contributions, Branch (5-11, 180 pounds) is no slouch on the field. He's a two-time All-Northeast-10 honoree, including a first-team selection last fall, and is a three-year starter. He's been in 33 career games and has contributed 97 tackles, 20 pass break-ups, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and four tackle for loss.

Reynolds says Branch's off-field contributions will have a lasting impact on the Bentley community.

“I think it’ll affect younger guys,” said Reynolds. “We had a plan to create BBSA and you're not only talking about black student-athletes from the present but from the past. So hopefully it leaves enough a mark where someone picks up the momentum.”

Said Branch: “I’m here to serve others and service others and help people grow. And often times that can be overlooked. Especially as a football player nobody really sees those things. So when you get credit for that it’s honestly humbling.”

More: Braintree QB James Tellier already has his first win of 2022: This summer, he beat cancer

Branch believes it’s important to give minority student-athletes a voice because “when you get many perspectives that can help enable better things and more growth.”

As far as his plans after college, Branch chooses to stay in the present and just wants to focus on winning games. Bentley is 2-2 heading into Saturday's game at Franklin Pierce. The Falcons were 9-2 last season and made their first NCAA playoff appearance since 2004.

“I would like to continue my career in football,” said Branch, who will graduate in the spring with a degree in business administration. “I have to keep playing at a high level, show and execute for (NFL) scouts. But I don’t really think about that. I just think about game by game, week by week and what I can do to get the team better.”

Fans can go online and learn more about the players' accomplishments and vote for the 2022 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team captain once a day until Nov. 22.

This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Randolph's Jailen Branch named to college football's Good Works Team for philanthropy


More From The Patriot Ledger

Patriot Ledger
Patriot Ledger
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon