How Charles Brantley found his way back to East Lansing
EAST LANSING – Charles Brantley made his moves to East Lansing long before he became a hero at Spartan Stadium last Saturday.
“He was a baby on the dance floor,” recalls Herb Haygood, former Michigan state soccer player, from his 2003 wedding reception at Hawk Hollow. Brantley’s father is Haygood’s cousin.
“He was young. But he danced,” continued Haygood.
Eighteen years later, Brantley must have looked like poetry to MSU fans everywhere, with his jumping, one-handed interception to secure MSU’s victory over Michigan.
Brantley, known as Chuck, is the latest sensation for the MSU 8-0 soccer team – a 6-foot, 165-pound Florida cornerback who plays with two tons of Sarasota grandeur. The Big Ten might be just about to meet Brantley, but MSU coaches knew he would play this year once the pads hit August camp.
“He’ll come and beat you,” said MSU coach Mel Tucker this week of Brantley, who has 13 tackles in five games this season. “We said, ‘Hey, this guy is going to compete. And you need that. You need people who (at the moment) are not too big for them. “
Brantley had this cool demeanor, I’m from overseas, played in big games before he turned 37 in the seconds after picking up Michigan’s Cade McNamara with 1:05 remaining on Saturday. to seal the Spartans -33 victory. Brantley knew of the rivalry from Haygood, whom he refers to as his uncle. He had seen previous MSU Michigan games. But nerves? Psh. I mean, he was nervous about the Miami game. That was Florida. The extent of this …
“It didn’t really hit me until we were actually in the game,” said Brantley.
Even so …
“When I was doing this piece, I didn’t even feel it,” he continued. “I just run with my teammates and have fun. They said to me like, ‘Do you know what you just did?’ I looked at her. ‘Caught an interception.’ ”
That’s why you’re recruiting Florida. Players tend to grow up differently down there. Brantley is part of a mini-pipeline from Sarasota that began when George Perles landed Amp Campbell in the early 1990s. Nick Saban then brought in Haygood and Cedric Henry. Since then, a few others have been added. MSU has another Sarasota child in its 2022 class, recipient Jaron Glover.
When you get through Sarasota you have faced serious competition and have been blown out of your soul a few times. Not really Sarasota as much as Newtown, a predominantly and historically black area of Sarasota where the football games between the neighborhoods in the “backyard” of the housing developments are legendary.
“You have to make a name for yourself in Newtown,” said Haygood. “I was hit harder in these games (without pads) than ever in a real football game.”
Brantley didn’t grow up in these apartment complexes, but he played there. It was there, said Haygood, that Brantley probably developed his fearlessness and boasting.
However, Brantley initially had no plans to follow Haygood’s path to MSU. He was dead in the state of Florida, where he met and trusted the then defensive coordinator of the Seminoles, Harlon Barnett, during a camp in the summer of 2019. Barnett had offered Brantley a fellowship locally. A few months later, Barnett and all Florida State staff were laid off.
“We stayed in touch,” said Barnett, who was returning to MSU as the second coach on Tucker’s staff.
Haygood not only knew Barnett but also Tucker. Tucker arrived as an assistant at MSU the same year Haygood arrived as a freshman in 1997.
“(Brantley) is about family,” said Haygood, “family and the relationships you build. So we always talk about the myths (of recruiting). Because there are many myths or smoke. People, when they recruit you, they tell you a lot of BS and all that. They have to be able to figure out the myths.
“The relationship he built with trainer Harlon and then built another relationship with coach Tucker and then let his uncle play there (at MSU). And to know so many people from the area (Sarasota) who played there who had nothing bad to say about the school … “
When Brantley made his interception on Saturday, he made a huge impact on the game after coming on as a late third quarter substitute. That impact – and his skill in using it to his advantage – caused the interception.
He had played his husband under close cover several times, closed quickly and threw his receiver out of the barrier. This time he pretended to break for his husband and instead delved deeper into the coverage, seeming to come out of nowhere to pick up a pass for Michigan tight-end Luke Schoonmaker.
Check out Chuck Brantley’s game-defining interception at the 8:12 mark on this video.
“He baited the guy,” said Haygood.
Haygood, who is the head coach at Madonna University in Livonia, was at home with his wife and two children, ages 5 and 3, watching the game during Madonna’s farewell week.
“As soon as the piece happened, my elder said, ‘This is my Chuck.’ “Said Haygood of his son Miles.
There was a time when Brantley thought this about Haygood, followed him to practice, and wore the football kit that Haygood brought home.
Eventually it took him – back – to East Lansing.
“(Haygood) told me this was a great place,” said Brantley. “Coach Tuck trained him. I had the feeling that I should just carry on with the family tradition. “
MORE: Couch: When Mel Tucker wins, the appreciation for Mark Dantonio is rekindled – and he can feel it
Contact Graham Couch at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.