Gators DT commit a UA All-American
Caleb Brantley excited to play in game he has watched since its beginnings
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound, four-star athlete said he was honored to be selected for a game that has featured top players such as NFL receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Green and Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley.
Brantley's mom, Tracy Mitchell, could barely contain her excitement for her son's accomplishment. Mitchell said she just wants her son to be successful, no matter what his future holds.
"As a parent, you always want your kid to succeed and do their best in life," Mitchell said. "Especially with society and the rate kids are going. I'm just so blessed and I just thank the Lord for guiding and protecting me and Caleb and for giving Caleb the strength and the wisdom to make this accomplishment."
Crescent City head coach Al Smith said Brantley is a great person on and off the field and his physical attributes are unlike anything he's ever seen.
"He's more of a leader, not vocally, but what he does on the field," Smith said. "You see a guy that is getting all this attention but yet he still goes hard in practice. Other guys just line up behind him and do the same thing. He's valuable to us by what he does in practice.
"Caleb's a big, strong, physical kid. He recognizes run [plays] well but has a great pass rush. He's hard to block. He's about 6-3, 300 pounds and runs a 4.9 40-yard dash. He gets off the ball well and is real explosive. He's a great student in the classroom -- he's a 'yes sir, no sir' type of guy and he can dominate a game."
Brantley has been committed to the Gators since before Florida hosted its junior day in Febuary. The No. 31-ranked player in the country attended Florida's 14-6 victory over LSU two weeks ago and was impressed with Florida's defensive performance.
"I was at the LSU game," Brantley said. "After the clock hit zero, I couldn't do nothing but just look at the scoreboard and just say, 'Wow.' LSU has been struggling recently, but I thought before the game they would be stepping it up, but the Florida defense was just unstoppable. Those guys just really clamped down."
"After the LSU game, it's hard to say that I'm looking at other places, really, but all I can say is stay tuned," he said. "I plan to visit FSU for the UF game and then an official in December and then probably another an unofficial visit after that. I might visit UGA, too. I'm not sure but I might do that. I don't think I'd go anywhere else other than that."
Brantley said his relationship with Florida State defensive line coach has kept FSU on his radar.
"It's just the relationship with their D-line coach, Odell Haggins, is the main thing," Brantley said. "We talk a lot, he calls me constantly. I have like a father/son bond with him. I've visited FSU a lot of times but I've only been to one game. It was the Oklahoma game that they lost last year and the atmosphere was crazy. I always tell the other Florida recruits that I've yet to hear it louder than that FSU game. It was crazy there."
Mitchell, though, said the family has kept the Florida coaches in the know on their plans.
"You have to understand this is a young kid who has never really traveled," Mitchell said. "To get out there and to see what's out there, I think it's a good experience. At the same time, though, we do keep Florida informed. We try to keep it professional."