Deion Branch Reminisces About Being Held Back a Level in Pop Warner for Three Years in Middle SchoolINDIANAPOLIS — Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch learned a hard football lesson in middle school when he was held back a level due to his size. And it came from the strangest of places.

The town's high school offensive coordinator, who has been a family friend, wouldn't let Branch move up a level in Pop Warner. So in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, Branch played with a younger age group.

"I just took over that league," Branch laughed.

As Branch reminisced about the experience Tuesday, Patriots defensive end Shaun Ellis walked by and quipped, "You're still little."

Branch took it in stride, just like he did in middle school.

"He said I was too little," Branch said of his future high school coach. "He told me I was too little to play ball. He was a family friend, so I think he felt a little bit more, he had to protect me for whatever reason. And then when I get to high school, he wanted to throw me the ball every play, so it was kind of weird. But to this day, I harass him about that all the time."

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