Antoine Bethea is currently the starting free safety for the Indianapolis Colts. The 25-year old Bethea was born in Savannah, Georgia, but attended high school at Denbigh High in Newport News, Virginia.
He continued his education, both on the field and in the classroom, at the historically black college Howard University. While at Howard, Bethea worked his way into the starting secondary by his sophomore season, totaling a career-best 109 tackles during the year. He went on to lead the Bison in tackles each of his last three seasons, and earned 1st-Team All-American honors from the NFL Draft Report his senior year.
Bethea was lightly regarded headed into the 2006 NFL Draft, but Bill Polian, as he tends to do, saw something that others didn’t in Bethea, and made him Indy‘s 6th round pick. It was clear immediately that Polian and his scouting staff had hit on a diamond in the rough, and then Head Coach Tony Dungy intimated that feeling after watching Bethea patrol the secondary during his first day of rookie mini camp.
He started alongside Bob Sanders for 14 games during his initial season in professional football, helping the Colts defense end the season as the NFL’s 2nd ranked pass defense and playing a key role in their Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears.
He missed three games in 2007, but still managed to total 95 tackles and a team-leading four interceptions, good enough to earn his first invitation to Pro Bowl. In his four seasons in Indy, Bethea has started 59 of 64 possible regular-season games, including 32 consecutive, and has registered over 100 tackles in three of his four years. He earned his second Pro Bowl berth in 2009.
Despite his unassuming stature, the Colts are more than aware of the integral role Bethea plays on Jim Caldwell‘s defense, and they recently signed him to a four-year deal worth a reported $27 million, guaranteeing Bethea will be roaming the Indianapolis secondary and impressing Indy sports fans for the foreseeable future.
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