Before each game for Crest High in Shelby, N.C., Spikes would walk up to the 50-yard line as the opposing team warmed up. He slowly crept toward midfield, stopped, stared and then turned around.
His coach at the time, Roy Kirby, remembers it like it was yesterday.
“He’s the most intimidating high school player I’ve ever seen,” Kirby told the Herald last week. “I would see the other team’s players stop warming up and look at him.”
When Spikes got to Crest, the first jersey number he requested was 51. When Kirby asked him why, he told him because it was Butkus’ number. Kirby was initially surprised because he, too, grew up admiring Butkus — he even had a poster of him on his wall — but in his time as a coach, he didn’t encounter many teenage fans of the old-time warrior.
“First time I heard it, I said ‘You know Butkus?’ He goes, ‘Coach, he’s the greatest linebacker of all time. I watch him on TV. I watch all the old stuff,’ ” Kirby said. “You ask the rest of the kids, ‘Who’s Dick Butkus?’ and they don’t have a clue.”
“There’s no greater feeling when you can just impose your will on another man and absolutely just stop what he’s trying to get done,” Spikes said. “It’s kind of fun. I get a kick out of it.”
Brandon Spikes has to be one of the most enjoyable Patriots players to watch. As Dick Butkus says in the article linked above, when you keep hitting a player you can eventually force fumbles.
Spikes has definitely seen the benefits of that, forcing three key fumbles this year while also delivering plenty of bone crushing hits.
Spikes could never stay healthy for long in his first two years, but now that he's been able to stay on the field he's been that nasty force in the middle of the field we always hoped he could be.