RECRUITING: USC or Florida For Antwine

It's down to two college choices for Brandon Antwine, the quick, athletic defensive tackle from Garland, Texas. The final decision probably won't come until signing day, not a day too early for his mother, who says she "will probably schedule a cruise or something" once the hectic recruiting process is over.

(See Brandon Antwine profile)

Southern Cal and Florida are the finalists for the 6-1, 271-pounder who is rated four stars by He may take some other visits but it would take something incredible to change his mind from Florida or Southern Cal.

Right now he's more concerned with Garland's advancement in the state playoffs. Garland is ranked eighth in Texas and set to square off against its arch-rival, Dallas Carter, this weekend. He tuned up for the Carter game with a dominating performance last week against John Tyler.

"I had ten tackles and three assists," he said. "I could have had some sacks but you know when you expect something and don't get it you might mess up. I expected them to at least put a body on me so I was in there too fast and slipped and missed the quarterback a few times. We go against Dallas Carter next week again. We get to redeem ourselves. They beat us by a touchdown last time."

Even though it is defense where he dominates and where he will be playing at the next level, he gets to play sometimes on the other side of the ball.

"I play a little tight end," he said. "When they need someone to go in and make a big block they put me in."

Most of the interview with Antwine was conducted last week before the Florida Gators lost to South Carolina. Asked this week if the loss would have any influence on his final decision, he said, "The losses don't effect how I feel."

When he visited Southern Cal recently, he came away impressed with the total package that's offered out in Los Angeles.

"It was awesome … they showed me a lot," he said. "That place was so big, it was amazing. The coaches and stuff were pretty much like the Florida visit. They made me feel like home. The defensive line coach, Jethro Franklin, is a real good guy. He showed me around and took me out to eat and talked about things.

"He asked me what I wanted in the school and wanted to major in. He put me with the people that I would play with and everything was just perfect. Basically I told him I was looking for a good education. It's not all about football, because any Saturday I could get hurt. I am looking for a degree and looking at business management."

Antwine visited Florida the weekend of the Mississippi State game. He had good memories of Florida's win on Homecoming day.

"The best thing about the Florida visit?" he contemplated. "I really don't know, maybe it was coming out in The Swamp. Without a doubt it was real loud."

For now, the playoffs are foremost in his mind so deciding between Florida and Southern Cal can wait. At this time, he won't even give an edge to one school or the other.

"Those are mainly the two schools I am looking at right now," he said. "It is so hard to say that one is over the other because they are such good schools. I really don't know at this point."

Whether it's Florida or Southern Cal, he will be spending the next four years a long way from home. He will be assisted in making the choice by his mom, Kathy, but in the end, the final choice will be based on what is the best fit for him both athletically and academically.

"Basically, I plan on talking with my mom and see how she feels about me going off to a far place like both of the schools," he said. "The decision has to come from the heart. I have to make the right decision, that's why I am not making a quick decision. I plan on making the decision on signing day."

For Kathy, the recruiting process has been difficult. She knows that this is the first step in a process that will eventually take her son far away from home.

"The process has been a little overwhelming," she said. "It is something that we never expected, never imagined. It has been a pleasure to go to the different schools and see how they sit down and talk to Brandon and get a feel for how they think of him.

When she talks about Brandon, there is a certain pride in her tone. It's easy to tell that she glows when it comes to her son.

"I am very proud of my son and all of his accomplishments," she said. "I have always tried to instill good values and taught him to be his own person. A lot of the time I really didn't think he was listening…up until several months ago. Then, I heard him do a few interviews and oh, I am very proud of him."

She gave her personal insights on the two schools that Brandon have made Brandon's final cut.

FLORIDA: "It was very interesting. It was a big school and there were a lot of genuine people around there. The college was built around the city. That was really nice. I think it was an atmosphere where he would enjoy playing football. A good education would be in the works also."

SOUTHERN CAL: "Los Angeles California is a very fast city. The campus itself … I found out it was a private school. That was something I didn't realize. We interacted with the team, the coaches and some of the wives … it was quite interesting. I really wouldn't have a problem if Brandon decided California would be the direction.

She found the atmosphere at both schools appealing and she discovered a comfort level with both the schools and the cities.

"I got a clear look at all the defensive linemen and different people and both schools reassured me that Brandon would be taken care of," she said. "I really met some very genuine people at both places."

Choosing either school means her son will be half a continent away from the Dallas metro area which she calls home. She was surprised when Brandon told her he was interested in going to school out of state but once she talked it over with him, she realized that her son has a pretty good head on his shoulders.

"In the beginning I never believed Brandon would want to leave Texas," she said. "I felt like we needed to keep his talent in Texas. After talking to him and other people we realized I need to let him branch out and let him make decisions for himself. I wanted to go on the visits so we can make the decision together. But, the final decision I want to be his. I kind of broke away, I know its time for him to grow up and do bigger and better things."

When he does leave home, she says it will be time to "sit back and relax. He will have to worry about himself. I taught him quite well … he'll be able to adjust. He is in school for a good education and all the other stuff will come later.

Brandon Antwine is one of the more sought after players in America and even though he's made it clear there are two choices, it won't be until signing day that fans from Florida and Southern Cal will know whether to rejoice or talk about the big one that got away.

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