Sept. 21, 2010
Written by: Eric Hollier, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director
Tanner Antle was standing in front of the camera on Tulsa's annual Media Day before preseason camp began, his answers to the questions posed to him for a video feature were perhaps surprising, but honest and funny.
Antle was relaxed and having fun, playing his own personality off of the small audience of staff and fellow players in the room.
Later in the locker room, while waiting for the team photo to be taken, Antle and several other Hurricane players were dancing to a human beat box. Hours before the first practice of his final college football season, Tanner Antle was feeling good.
The night before, Antle and his fellow linebackers had a meeting. The lone senior in the corps had already begun to see the end of his college football career coming on the horizon. He decided that everyday he would make the most of his time remaining on the field.
"It started to hit me a little bit, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," Antle said. "I realized I only have a few games left. I told them I want them to hold me accountable, not just during games, but every day in practice, to get the best out of myself. And I'm going to hold them accountable because I just want to win every day - practice and games. I want to win everything."
All of Antle's excitement for every aspect of the game, from workouts and conditioning, to practice, meetings and games, is a renewed energy for the Foyil, Okla., native. This illustrates the 180-degree turnaround for Antle.
The sport has not always been as enjoyable for him. He has not always been this relaxed or had this much fun in football. In the spring, Antle took what he calls a sabbatical from the game. He missed most of spring practice, but decided to play his final year, returning in time to participate in the Spring Game. While away, Antle spent more time at the driving range and took up tennis.
"For the first time in my life I could actually hit it over the net and it would go back down," he said, laughing. "I really like tennis."
"I couldn't stay away from sports," he added.
Mostly, during his time away, he had time to think.
Since he returned from his hiatus, Antle has been more passionate, focused and concentrated on the current season than any of his previous three at TU.
"My heart has changed, like 100 percent," Antle said. "(Before camp started) I was thinking about camp coming up. Normally I would think, `Gosh, camp is coming up, I don't know how I'm going to make it.' But this year, I thought, `Let's do this.' I want every chance I can get to make this the best possible year ever. Not just in my career, but in TU football history."
He worked harder than ever in the offseason to become stronger and faster, and one can see the results with a simple glance at the 6-4, 230-pound linebacker.
"This summer I trained my butt off. I'm bigger than I've ever been and I'm stronger," said Antle. "As far as practice goes, I'm focusing more on little things like techniques and fundamentals, because it's the little things. You add all those little things up, and it makes you a better player. It's all about effort and attitude."
When he was contemplating his return to football, Antle thought about all of the people around him - his teammates, coaches, the fans and children in the stands, friends, his spiritual family at his church and his own family members. Everyone has been behind him the entire way.
"There were a lot of reasons why I came back to play football," Antle said. "But the one that hit me the most was realizing God put me here for a reason. The night (the coaches) called and offered me a scholarship, I thought, `This is a blessing from God.' When I took a step back and thought about giving (football) up, I thought, `All right, God, I remember you put me here for a reason. I owe you this season.' I'm jumping all in. Anything God tells me to do, I'm going to do wholeheartedly."
He has wholeheartedly prepared to play his final college football season. In the first three games of the season, Antle recorded 17 total tackles including nine solo tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries. Once again this season, Tanner Antle is enjoying himself on and off the football field, relaxed and having fun, and poised to make this the best season of his career.
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