FOUR STARS: This Beast Is A Real Beauty

Former NFL great Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears is a hero for Brandon Antwine, the four-star rated defensive tackle out from Garland, Texas. Like Payton, Antwine wants to leave a lasting legacy on the sport. One thing for sure, though, he won't be known as "Sweetness."

Payton's appeal to Antwine is that combination of toughness and ability. Antwine loves the fact that Payton could play football with such a nasty streak yet off the field, he was always the perfect gentleman and embodiment of 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 Payton's most endearing characteristics was a willingness to lower the shoulder and bowl over would-be tacklers. He believed in delivering the blow instead of taking it, often leaving defenders with a lasting memory of their close, personal encounter. Antwine wants opponents to have a lasting memory of their close personal encounters, too. He loves to hit hard and nobody yet has called him "Sweetness."

"Oh no, they call me 'The Beast'," he said.

At 6-1 and 270 pounds, Antwine regularly catches the opponents off guard with his relentless pursuit and quickness to the ball. The Beast may well be described by his favorite play all season.

"I came straight through the line and they tried to run a reverse and I literally almost took the guys head off," Antwine said about a play against rival Ennis HS. "He got the ball and dropped it, too. It was kind of like a clothesline. 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 double and triple-teaming, and running away from him. He just plays through and waits for teams to make the fatal mistake.

"We are pretty good with our defense and stronger than ever," he said. "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 at homecoming 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."

He's been recruited to Florida by assistant coaches Gregg Mattison and Dan Mullen. The Gators have been one of his favorites for a long time and he says there is a lot to like about the team and the school.

"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 making a serious run for Antwine in recent months. The Trojans are recruiting him hard and the way their long winning streak is quite a lure for a high school prospect.

"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, 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 that have gotten the interest from Antwine are Kansas State and Wisconsin. These two will get official visits sometime after the football season, pushing Antwine's decision date probably to January sometime.

"Those are two other teams I have been following up on," he said about 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. Football is his ticket to school, but he also wants to enjoy the time he spends in 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 in college and is bound and determined to get the diploma that comes with being a student athlete. He recently scored a 19 on his ACT so recruiters won't have to sweat his admission.

"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 and see where his childhood favorite can make him feel at home.

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