Former Scott's Branch student talks about his journey to the NFL

Former Scott’s Branch student Keith Pough has made it to the NFL. The Cleveland Browns announced their final roster two weeks ago, and Pough made the cut via the practice team. Pough spent his junior and senior seasons at Scott’s Branch and was quickly recognized as an elite player. He enjoyed the small school environment at his alma mater. “Scott’s Branch is a great school with a small-town intimate environment,” Pough said. “I had some of the best teachers in the state, and it was a great experience. I grew up a lot there as a young man on and off the football field.” Pough received a full scholarship to Howard University after graduating high school. The 6-foot-2, 239-pound linebacker was invited to the 2013 NFL combine where he ran a 4.87, 40-yard dash, benched 225 pounds 17 times, and had a vertical jump of 33 inches and a broad jump of 9-foot-10. Before Pough could take the next step in becoming an NFL player, he had to decide on the right representation, which was a tough process. “You want to find the right guy, but it can be overwhelming when you are not prepared for it,” Pough said. “At the end of my junior year, I had 25 or 30 agents contacting my parents.” Pough said finding the right agent can be a great experience and you have find someone who cares about you, will work hard for you and only has your best interest in mind. Pough went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft, but was signed as a free agent by the Buffalo Bills. He was released after the last preseason game of 2013. Pough recalls this being one of the lowest points of his life. “This whole year has been tough, and a learning experience,” he said. “You have to embrace the struggle and live every day as your last. You never know if you will play again. It’s a privilege to put a helmet on everyday, not a right” Pough said he missed the small things during his yearlong absence from football like the smell of the locker room, the blow of a whistle and the team environment. After being released the Scott’s Branch graduate set out to work harder and achieve a longtime goal of making it to the NFL. “Everyone is talented at this level. Everyone is fast, strong and they are the best of the best,” he said. “I have the skill set, the speed and the strength; for me it’s more about raising my game mentally and being the elite player I know I’m capable of being. I know I’ll reach that level, it’s just a matter of time and hard work.” Each NFL team can keep up to 10 members on its practice squad in addition to the 53-member main roster. A player can only participate on the practice squad for three seasons. Practice squad players practice with regular players, but can’t play in games. The minimum salary for a practice squad player in 2012 was $5,700 per week. Practice squad players are free agents and can be signed to play for another NFL team at any point of the year. Some of the more successful players in NFL history to make it from a practice squad are James Harrison, Jason Peters, Danny Amendola and Arian Foster. Pough sees being on the practice squad as a great opportunity. “I am able to get on the field and show coaches what I am capable of doing,” Pough said. “I have a positive outlook on my chances of being called up to the 53-man roster.” Pough recently suffered a high-ankle sprain, but remains positive as a Cleveland Brown moving forward. “I was blessed with this opportunity and I’m going to try to play until I can’t,” he said. “Keep digging, you have to keep digging, you can’t be three feet away from your goals and dreams and give up. I’m not going to give up, I’m going to keep digging.”    


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