Greater, the long anticipated story of former Arkansas Razorback All-America Brandon Burlsworth, opened this weekend to generally good reviews.
"He probably was, as portrayed, just a very good, decent young man," says Little Rock-based film critic Philip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "The genre is sort of one of these Christian inspiration movies, but it's really better than most of those."
Burlsworth was an offensive lineman who was offered scholarships to a few mid-major universities when he came out of Harrison High School in the mid-1990s. He was long on size--300-plus pounds--but short on talent.
His dream was to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks, so he turned down the scholarship offers to "walk on" with the Razorbacks and pay his own way to school for the chance to play.
After a redshirt season, Burlsworth worked his way onto the starting team and, by the time he was a senior, onto an All-America team.
He was drafted in the third round by the Indianapolis Colts, but 10 days after the draft, as he was heading home to Harrison from Fayetteville, lost his life in an accident with a tractor-trailer rig.
"I think it's going to find an audience," Martin said. "It's one of the very best faith-based movies I've seen. It's a very careful move, but there's nothing wrong with it. It's totally credible, and it's going to be fun for people in Arkansas, local people, to see some of the people they're going to recognize on-screen."
Burlsworth's head coach during his senior season, Houston Nutt, has a cameo role as does Arkansas' athletic director at the time, Frank Broyles.