Growing up in Orlando, Florida, football was everywhere for DeAngelo Antoine. Whether it was with or without a ball, Antoine’s outlet was football.
Antoine attended Oak Ridge High School, where he led the Pioneers to a district championship. That year, Antoine earned a second-team nod on the Florida All-State Team as a receiver. Ranked as a 3-star prospect by 247Sports, Antoine committed to Willie Taggart and USF. During his time in Tampa, Antoine saw playing time both at wide receiver and safety, as well as special teams.
Antoine then transferred to FAU as a graduate transfer. As a senior, Antoine helped lead the Owls to an 11-2 record. His last year of collegiate football was capped off by a C-USA championship and Boca Bowl win. Antoine finished the season with 771 receiving yards and 5 receiving touchdowns.
Deangelo Antoine turns on the jets!
— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) December 7, 2019
Author’s Note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity.
Fifth Quarter (FQ): You’re from Central Florida, the Orlando area to be exact. What was it like growing up there, both in terms of personal life and then football life, as well?
DeAngelo Antoine (DA): Being from Orlando was good scenery. Being in the city, being around a lot of athletes, and a lot of guys kind of chasing the same dream that I’m chasing. Football was something that kind of stuck to me at a very young age because that’s something that we did. That’s something inner-city kids did when we were younger. We just played football outside in the streets, where ever we could find a field that we could play. As long as someone had a ball, or some type of object that we could use as a ball, we kind of just played to have fun. Growing up playing football kind of just steered us to the avenue that we wanted to be a professional athlete one day, or make it out playing football. So, that’s what kind of kept us going.
FQ: What were some players did you look up to or try to model your game after growing up?
DA: Growing up, we had guys like (Chicago Bears safety and Orlando native) HaHa Clinton-Dix. (Former Tennessee Titans running back) Chris Johnson was actually my favorite player growing up because I got to watch him in high school. His high school was a couple of miles down the street from mine. I got to get a quick glimpse of his raw abilities in high school, so that’s kinda a guy I really looked up to growing up and I kind of wanted to be like.
FQ: Coming out of high school you chose to sign with USF. What factors played into the decision to sign with USF?
DA: I didn’t want to go too far because I didn’t want to leave my grandma because I grew up with my grandma – it was just me and her growing up. I didn’t want to go to UCF because that was too close to home. I wanted to be far enough but close enough to be able to make the drive back home.
Growing up, little league football, my colors were green and gold. Then I got to my high school and my high school colors were green and gold. Then, USF was green and gold. So, the green and gold kind of stuck with me for a long time. When I got the opportunity to commit to USF, I stuck with it.
FQ: While at USF, you did play some safety, although, that was pretty brief. What factors did you learn from defense that you took back to offense?
DA: Going into college, I was kind of a defensive player the entire time. When I got to a 7-on-7 tournament, (then-USF head coach) Willie Taggart saw me showcase some abilities at wide receiver and he wanted me to play receiver. So, the switch from wide receiver to defensive back was kind of easy in the beginning.
When I went back to wide receiver, it was kind of easy. It kind of helped me to really dictate how a defensive back plays the receiver at the collegiate level. So,I tried to take some of those tendencies away so I wouldn’t give the defensive back the edge on trying to read what I was going to do.
FQ: After your career at USF, you transferred to FAU. When you explored your options, what intrigued you about the FAU offense?
DA: They liked to run-and-gun. Knowing Lane Kiffin and seeing the stuff that he did with Nick Saban at Alabama, and seeing that he took it to FAU. When I first went out for the spring game, I got to see first-hand what they were doing on the offensive side of the ball and they were running a lot of deep balls and double moves. They made the offense look very fun. To be able to play alongside (FAU tight end Harrison Bryant), that’s something I wanted to do because everybody was saying he was the best tight end in the country, and to see it first hand was another reason why I went there because I wanted to help build something around him and help the team win, and that’s what we did.
FQ: While at FAU, you were a part of one of the team’s most successful season. An 11-2 record overall, a conference championship victory, at home, and a Boca Bowl win over SMU and a victory over FIU in the Shula Bowl. When you look back at this season, what are some fond memories that stick out?
DA: I would say winning the conference championship because when I first got to FAU, me and (Harrison Bryant) didn’t know each other but the first thing I told him, I said I wanted to help him win a conference championship. So, in the summer it was him, me, and (FAU quarterback) Chris Robison throwing the ball around and we would always say we want to win a conference championship. When Bryant told me that they won it his second year but he didn’t really feel like he did enough to help the team win, so he wanted to get back. I told him that I would do everything in my power to help him to get there, to achieve that goal. I would say working towards that conference championship and actually winning it was probably the best memory because I was a part of something special.
FQ: You had a very successful season. Phil Steele named you Third-Team All-Conference and you had over 1,000 all-purpose yards and 6 touchdowns. Take me through this season from a personal standpoint.
DA: I went in and I wanted to set a statement. I wanted to show that I could play at a very fast pace. Coming in, I told myself that I wanted to accomplish my personal goals, but also wanted to leave with a bang. I really didn’t say I want this amount of yards or this amount of that. I just wanted to win and I wanted to be a part of a winning team and I wanted to win a conference championship because at the end of the day, all my personal accolades wouldn’t have mattered if we didn’t win a conference championship.
FQ: FAU announced Willie Taggart as their head coach last month. What was it like playing under Willie Taggart?
DA: I loved playing under Willie Taggart. He was one of the fun coaches. He’s a jokester but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work. When it was time to win, it was time to win. There was never a dull moment, it was always fun and exciting to be a part of that offense because he calls it the “Gulf Coast Offense”, so to be a part of that trend and to be able to start a trend at South Florida was very good.
FQ: Are there any players in the NFL right now that you would try to model your game after/look up to?
DA: I still talk to Rodney Adams, he was (at USF) when I was there. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, he plays for Green Bay now. Those were the guys who took me under their wings when they were (at USF). They were older guys, so I kind of tried to learn what they told me and what they taught me out there running routes. Other than them, I try to model myself after a Tyreek Hill-caliber player.
FQ: Who was the toughest defensive back you faced in college?
DA: I would say [Jeffery Okudah] from Ohio State. He was one of the toughest I had to line up against because I played on the outside, I wasn’t in the slot, just yet. He was all-around, he was a great player.
FQ: The 2020 draft features a very deep receiving class, both at the top and in terms of depth. If an NFL team drafts DeAngelo Antoine, what are they getting both on the field and off it?
DA: Off the field, they’re getting a respectable young man. Somebody that wants to give back to the community, show young people that you can make it out and you can do what you want to do. You can do what you love doing and do it at the highest level and that you should never count yourself out. On the field, I’m a special teams guy. I can play special teams, I can be lined up in different spots, so I’m not just a receiver, I can play anywhere that you need me to play and I can make big plays and blow the top off the defense.