The Rings Make it all Worth it

When Brandon Antwine looks at the national and SEC championship rings on his fingers, it all feels worth it. The countless hours spent early in the morning and late at night in the Florida training room just to take the practice field with as little pain possible would wear on anyone. The pain is still noticeable but Antwine would put up with it for as long as he is allowed to play for the Gators.

"When we're not in meetings, I'm in the training room," Brandon Antwine said. "When we're not on the field, I'm in the training room. When I'm not trying to get ready for practice, I'm in the training room. I'm basically always there. You've got to give it your all in every aspect. For me, it's my last year, so I've got to do everything I can."

Whether it's a knee, back or shoulder injury, Antwine's career looks frustrating to an outsider. It might sound crazy when he says it, but he wouldn't trade it. It forced him to mature and learn how to handle misfortune.

"It makes things better for me," Antwine said. "Some guys go through their career with no injuries. Just to know that I have to fight to get through a season, then get hurt again. I've done that a few times. Now it all feels worth it. I feel like my teammates look up to me after going through what I've been through."

He continues to rehab the knee, back and shoulder, but the term he uses is "maintenance." He knows the pain will be there when he steps on the field. It's just a matter of dealing with the pain and minimizing it as much as possible.

The injuries have garnered respect from his teammates, but without his friends on the team, making it through the struggles wouldn't be possible. Maurice Hurt, Lawrence Marsh and Jermaine Cunningham are the players who have been around him since getting to Gainesville. However, he credits his teammates on the defensive line for encouraging him to continue.

"I've been hurt, but I haven't been through it alone," Antwine said. "I've got a lot of helpful teammates. They're brothers. Not being on the field hurts. You don't want to be in that place, but with great support from my brothers here on the team, it makes me want to come back and go through everything I have to in the training room if it means a chance to be with this team another season."

Every time he enters the practice facility this fall, Antwine thinks of how his career is coming to an end. Players don't like two-a-days in the heat to prepare for the season, but Antwine's mentality is different. He knows that at this time next year, the nose tackle will be wishing to be on the team again.

"It's my last one," Atwine said. "I'm just soaking it all in and trying to give it my all. I'm trying to stay healthy so I can give it my all."

The environment for practice reminds Antwine of the teams that have been elite in his time at Florida. He senses a team that is counting the days until they can prove something to the country.

"It's real intense," Antwine said. "I feel like at Florida we do so much stuff that no one else does. At the time, it kind of does suck. But at the end of it, it's for the better for us as a team. That's why we do what we do here in the fourth quarter. We're so much better off than other teams."
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