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Twin terrors: Botts brothers lead stout Lions' defense

Photo by Christine Troyke

Photo by Christine Troyke

Sometimes Bill Ballard has to pause before he talks to Tanner and Tyler Botts.

The identical twins and standouts on the Peachtree Ridge defense make it difficult for Ballard to know who is who.

THE BOTTS FILES

Name: Tanner Botts

School: Peachtree Ridge

Sport: Football

Class: Senior

Favorite food: Seafood

Favorite sports team: Atlanta Falcons

Dream job: Play in the NFL

Do you ever wish you didn’t have a twin? “No, I don’t know what it’s not like to have a twin, so I like it. You always have another player out on the field with you.”

Noteworthy:

• Made a team-high 108 tackles last season

• Bench presses 345 pounds, squats 585, power cleans 335 and runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash

• Won region title in powerlifting last year

• Member of lacrosse team

• Maintains 3.2 GPA

• Older than twin brother Tyler by 45 seconds

Name: Tyler Botts

School: Peachtree Ridge

Sport: Football

Class: Senior

Favorite food: Chinese

Favorite sports team: Atlanta Falcons

Dream job: Play in the NFL

Do you ever wish you didn’t have a twin? “When we were little growing up, we always had someone to play with and never had to worry about being bored. It’s been good.”

Noteworthy:

• Second on the team with 80 tackles last year

• Bench presses 350 pounds, squats 515, power cleans 315, runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash

• Placed third in state as a sophomore at state powerlifting meet

• Maintains 3.3 GPA

• Member of lacrosse team

“They are hard to tell apart. I think they could pull a fast one on a lot of people,” Ballard said. “I’ve gotten to where I’m pretty good, but I’m not perfect.”

One former Peachtree Ridge assistant simply referred to them as Botts 1 and Botts 2, but the twins have settled into being known simply as the Botts brothers.

They are 6-foot-2, 220-poundish defenders that have their names called regularly on Friday nights.

“They are both throwbacks, old school kind of kids,” Ballard said. “Yes sir, no sir, do what they are asked to do.”

“That just comes from my dad,” Tanner said of being referred to as a throwback. “He always told us don’t worry about looking the best, just play the best.”

Tanner (No. 4) plays linebacker and has started since the end of his freshman year. Tyler (No. 45) is a defensive end/linebacker than also sees time at tight end. Both are team captains, which was voted on by their teammates.

“Both of them are very active in terms of making tackles,” Ballard said. “Both are very productive. They are just really fun to be on the team.”

The twins grew up in the Central Gwinnett district, but moved to Peachtree Ridge as freshmen to pursue lacrosse. They starred as freshmen on the ninth-grade team, but a team suspension promoted Tanner to start on defense at the end of the season, including the Lions’ playoff game.

“The first game I was pretty nervous, but after that I fell in place,” Tanner said.

Since then the duo has settled into roles as regular starters on Peachtree Ridge’s defense. They were on the 2008 team that reached the Class AAAAA state finals and believe they can duplicate that season as seniors.

“This season really reminds me of my sophomore year, the year we made it to the state championship,” Tanner said. “We all like each each other and all the seniors are good leaders. We might not have all the talent in the world, but we definitely work hard together. We’re going to try and win state.”

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Tanner racked up 108 tackles last season from his linebacker position. This year he has made 29 stops, tied for fourth-best in Gwinnett.

“He is basically the quarterback of the defense, gets everybody lined up right,” Ballard said. “He’s a tenacious defender.”

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Tyler made 80 tackles last year from his hybrid defensive end/linebacker spot and his fumble return for a touchdown this season sparked the Lions’ win in the Corky Kell Classic.

“Tyler is probably more versatile than Tanner in that he plays tight end, long snaps and he plays defensive end or outside linebacker,” Ballard said. “He’s a heck of a player.”

So who’s the better football player? Neither one will concede he’s better than his brother.

“He runs to the ball really well and no one can block him and drive him out,” Tanner said about Tyler. “He always holds his ground no matter what. He hits as hard as he can and tries his best no matter what.”

“He’s really aggressive towards the ball. He’s really smart and knows everybody’s position on the entire defense,” Tyler said of Tanner. “He can line up anywhere and play any position. He does exactly what the coaches ask him and he tries to kill everyone on every play.”

It’s their style of play that makes it hard to tell who is who on the field. Off the field, it’s matter of noticing the little things. Tanner is 45 seconds older, but Tyler would never call him big brother. Tanner has more of a round face with a mole on the right side. He’s left-handed and Tyler is right handed. Tanner has a thin beard, while Tyler is more clean shaven. Tanner is more outspoken and Tyler is more likable by his peers.

The duo were known to get in their brotherly fights growing up, arguing over clothes and the computer.

“Back in the day, we used to fight all the time. Everything,” Tanner said. “If someone did something wrong, got on someone’s nerves, it was kind of a choke hold kind of thing.”

Now the two are just competitive in the weight room. Tanner has the strength, Tyler has the speed.

Both have drawn interest from Division I schools to play football at the next level, but have yet to pick up an official offer. They fear recruiters have backed off because they think it’s a package deal for them to go to the same school.

“It’s what fits us best, whether it’s separate or together,” Tanner said.

Ballard is confident they will pick up a major Division I offer before the season is over.

“They are both very good football players, very good high school football players and I think they will be good at the college level,” Ballard said. “A lot of times one twin is not as good as the other. In their case it’s different, they both can play.”