RECRUITING: 4 Star Beast Hits G'ville Friday

One of the all time greats in football is the hero of one of the best high school players in the country this season. For defensive tackle Brandon Antwine of Garland (TX), Walter Payton is the pinnacle of sports icons. The Chicago Bear legend made his legacy in the NFL and Antwine wants to leave his own at Garland and beyond.

(Brandon Antwine profile)

Antwine idolized Payton for his toughness and his ability to do what he wanted both on and off the field. On the field he had a nasty streak, but off the field he conducted himself with class.

"My favorite player growing up was Walter Payton," Antwine said. "He was just a pure athlete, I loved everything about him. He could do it all."

One of the most endearing characteristics about Payton is that he would lower his shoulder and confront defending tacklers head-on. Payton was known to leave a lasting memory on defenders. Antwine is much the same. He can be nasty on the field because he has an intense style of play and will go after the ball flat-out. They don't call him "Sweetness," that's for sure. "Oh no, they call me ‘The Beast'," said Antwine.

At 6-1 and 270 pounds, Antwine regularly catches the opponents off guard with his relentless pursuit and quickness to the ball. His favorite play lends credence to his beastly nickname.

"I came straight through the line and they tried to run a reverse and I literally almost took the guys head off," said Antwine, on a play against rival Ennis HS. "He got the ball and dropped it too. It was kind of like a clothes line. At first, I didn't know that they were doing the reverse and I thought I was going to have to run after the quarterback and it was just right there. His whole body came off the ground and my team recovered the ball."

"The Beast" takes no prisoners on the field and knows that teams are completely aware of his ability. He is actually quite tired of the doubl & triple teaming and scheming away from him on the field. He just plays through and waits for teams to make a fatal mistake.

"We are pretty good with our defense and stronger than ever," said Antwine. "I think I am doing a real good job -- teams have been running away from me. Every game, it's like I have three people on me every play. Al I can say is they better keep doing it, because if I get loose, it's going down."

As it turns out, Antwine will be "going down" to Gainesville this weekend on an official visit to watch the Florida Gators' Homecoming game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. He will also visit his two other favorites, Tennessee and USC by the end of the month.

"On Friday I leave to go to Florida and on the 22nd is when I go to Tennessee," he said. "I go to USC on the 29th. I hopefully will make my decision after I take all of my five visits.

Florida has long been one of his favorites and Antwine has been heavily recruited by assistant coaches Gregg Mattison and Dan Mullen. According to Antwine, there is a lot to like about Florida.

"I just love the atmosphere," he said about The Swamp. They are a real consistent team and they have a powerful defense and that is something I want to be a part of. Coach Mattison says I am the man and they aren't looking at any more defensive tackles."

USC has been a team on his radar for several months now and in serious contention for Antwine's services. The Trojans certainly make an impact on prospects these days.

"They are a really good team," he said about USC. "They remind me of my high school. They have a good tradition and I love a school with tradition, because they go so far in what they do. I hope they do it three times in a row. They say that I'm their man. Hopefully if I get down there and prove myself, then I will start as a freshman. I keep in contact with Coach Ken Norton Jr. and Coach Jethro Franklin."

Tennessee is a fairly new arrival on the scene for Antwine. A month ago he was only listing two schools, but the Volunteers have made in-roads. "They are a real good team," Antwine said. "They are a little closer school to go to, and kind of a place I can go that isn't as far as Florida or USC.

Two other teams Antwine is interested in are Kansas State and Wisconsin. These two will get official visits sometime after the football season, pushing Antwine's decision date to January sometime.

"Those are two other teams I have been following up on," said Antwine on Kansas State and Wisconsin. "They have good defenses and basically I just love tradition and they have a lot of that. I plan on making the last two visits in January and my final decision will come in January."

Wherever he goes, Antwine will be leaving the talent rich state of Texas to play college ball. Mom isn't excited about that prospect, but she wants "The Beast" to be happy.

"I am ready to leave this place," he said. "I have been here too long. I have been here all my life. She said it would be hard for her to get out to Florida, USC, or Tennessee, but she told me she would support me in whatever I do and will come out and see me when she can. She can't come to every game, because that is money out of her pocket."

The things that will push Antwine to a school to play football will be the comfort level and the environment he sees on his visit. Antwine will play football, but he wants to enjoy his years on the gridiron and the classroom.

"Mainly when I go to the place and feel more at home and cope better with than the other places," he said. "I am not basing it on rank, USC being number one and all of that, I'm just basing it on how I feel when I get there. I would say playing time is a little factor, but if I go there and give it my all and the coach says I should red-shirt and I have a little more work to do, I would have to take that into consideration. It doesn't really matter."

Then there is that little thing called a college degree. Antwine has a serious interest in Business Management and is determined to get the diploma that comes with being a student athlete. High school is going exceptionally well for him and a recent score of 19 on the ACT means college recruiters won't have to sweat on him qualifying.

"Getting a degree is really the most important thing," he said. "I am lucky and glad to get a scholarship to play football, but the degree is the first thing. My mom lets me know that I'm not guaranteed to play football all my life and I could get hurt. Something could happen and I need something to fall back on and I need to get my degree."

"The Beast" lands in Gainesville Friday for a fun filled homecoming weekend in Gainesville. For the Florida Gators it is a chance to make a huge impression on the top quick defensive tackle on the whole board. For Antwine it is a chance to soak in the atmosphere of his childhood favorite and see if he can start a new legacy in The Swamp in the vein of Walter Payton.

Fightin Gators Top Stories