Brandon Burlsworth is perhaps the greatest walk-on in the history of college football. Brandon had always dreamed of playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, but was considered too short and too fat to play Division I. Undeterred, Brandon took a big risk and walked on in 1994. Written off by fellow teammates and coaches, Brandon displayed dogged determination in the face of staggering odds. An extremely devoted Christian, Brandon never cursed or drank. He was genuinely humble and low-key. He worked harder than anybody, on and off the field, becoming the first Razorback to earn a Bachelor's and Master's degree while still playing. The overly-fat kid who was once an embarrassment to his teammates and an annoyance to his coaches, ended up becoming the most respected player in the history of the program, changing the lives of all he touched. Eleven days after being drafted into the NFL, Brandon was tragically killed in a car accident, crushing all who knew him. Brandon was "too good to be true". How could something like that happen to this guy? The age-old question slammed down upon all with terrible force: "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Brandon's story is more than mere football. It is the ultimate expression of the question "Why?" Greater will provide hope and inspiration as it strives to wrestle with this challenge and find reasons to trust. It is "Rudy" meets "It's a Wonderful Life".
Neal McDonough (Marty Burlsworth), Leslie Easterbrook (Barbara Burlsworth), Christopher Severio (Brandon Burlsworth (as Chris Severio)), Michael Parks (Leo Burlsworth), Nick Searcy (The Farmer), Peter Gray Lewis (Coach Tice (as Peter Lewis)), Fredric Lehne (Coach Bender), M.C. Gainey (Coach Ford), Wayne Duvall (Pastor Rick), Texas Battle (Anthony Lucas), Mark Dobies (Coach Nutt), Grant Cook (Grant Garrett), Josh Emerson (Nathan Ward), Ethan Waller (Young Brandon), Todd Julian (Mike), Scott Thomson (Dan Huber), Cassie Self (Vickie Burlsworth), Connor Antico (Clint Stoerner), Quinton Aaron (Coach Aaron), Patrick Duff (Coach Mudd (as Pat Duff)), Adam Scarimbolo (Coach Crane (as Adam Scarambolo)), Chris Ross (Thin Frat), Grant Morris (Fat Frat), Mark Anthony Marinoni (Bender's Son), Marty Burlsworth (Photographer)...
Where to start? Well, this was a surprise for me and a mighty good one at that. To be honest, I had never heard of Brandon Burlsworth before (I am from Ireland and don't follow American football that much) but after watching this film and doing some follow-up research I now know his story is an amazing and inspiring one and then some.
Hats off to all involved, great acting, especially by Chris Severio as Brandon Burlsworth, but the other actors really played their parts convincingly too.
I loved this for other reasons also, the powerful message that for those who never give up opportunities will come. Just a quick mention for actor Neal McDonough who played the part of Brandon's brother amazingly. He did a superb job; the last time I saw him was in the excellent TV series, Band of Brothers. Such a terrific actor who deserves more recognition for what he does.
What's more, it is a great family film and proof it doesn't have to be all about graphic images, profanity, and innuendo. Well done to the production crew for making a movie with such an important uplifting message in an age where others seem only concerned with pushing their agenda.
I urge everyone to see this because, as I said in the heading, "Every now and again something special comes along." This is one of those moments.
Coach Tice: You know, football's a rough game; it's unpredictable. Life itself, squeezed into 60 minutes in 100 yards. Now, you can't control who your mom and daddy is, but you can control how hard you work. Sow with thought, you reap in action. Sow with action, you reap a habit. You sow a habit, you reap a character. You sow a character, you reap a destiny. Every place starts with a cadence and ends with a whistle. What you do in between, determines your legacy, so make sure you give it everything you've got until you hear that whistle.
Greater: The Brandon Burlsworth Story ((working title)) • Большой (Russia)
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