Coach's Q&A: On USC LB commit Larenz Bryant

dmclemore@thestate.comJanuary 9, 2013 

USC linebacker commitment Larenz Bryant from Zebulon Vance High School.

JEFF BLAKE — jblake@thestate.com

Vance High football coach Keith Wilkes discusses his star player Larenz Bryant, one of the top prospects in South Carolina’s 2013 recruiting class.

Bryant is the No. 1 player in North Carolina, and the sixth-best outside linebacker and 51st best prospect in the country, according to 247Sports. He is a consensus four-star player.

As a linebacker, Bryant (6-1, 215) amassed 10 or more tackles three times. He had nine sacks, an interception, defended four passes and recovered a pair of fumbles.

As a running back, he rushed for 1,694 yards. On three occasions, he rushed for 192 or more yards in a game. On four occasions, he scored three or more touchdowns. He also broke off runs of 85, 83 and 73 yards.

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If you were putting together his highlight tape and resume for the first time, what would you promote about him?

He has a strong will to succeed. Since I've been here he's really worked hard. You can really see his desire in help leading his teammates. He cares about his teammates. He’s a standout type of kid. he stands above the rest, on the field and off the field. He;s a good young man to coach. I’m blessed to be his coach.

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How has he handled the attention of being a big-time recruit?

He’s kept a level head. He’s been on the front of magazines. He’s been flown all over the country. He was voted Nike’s best linebacker and won MVP in that camp. It seems like when he’s involved with something he comes out on top.

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How has he balanced being a national recruit with being a normal kid?

It boils down to individual kids. He comes from a good family situation. His mom has kept him pretty humble. And he’s stayed pretty humble through all that has happened for him. I can tell he is hungry for more success. That’s good.

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Of all his accolades, how big was the U.S. Army game selection?

It’s big. Your journey through high school, your dedication, your focus over four years and something this large paying off a kid. It’s rare kids get to play in that game. It’s for the special kids. It tells you a lot about him being focused over four years.

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How many college programs would you estimate have been through the school to see him?

All the big schools. All the top 25 schools have come through here. He’s one of the most highly recruited kids I’ve coached. LSU and Alabama have come through here, not only once but multiple times. That tells you the type of recruit he is.

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What kind of young man is he?

He’s definitely a humble kid, definitely a leader. He’s a kid who is hungry and wants to train. We had a guy come in to do some training in the offseason and he was the first to talk to him. He definitely wants to get better. He was definitely the leader of our team. One team we came up a little short against, and he was crying and talking about his teammates. That showed me he was more concerned about his teammates than himself.

A lot of the top kids didn’t play in the Shrine Bowl. But he’s a kid who thinks about the kids and what the Shriners mean. He’s a pretty humble young man.

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What kind of competitor is he?

He’s definitely a competitor. He wants to win everything he does. Any time he competes against the better kids in the country and the state, he wants to stand out. Everything we've been to that gives an award at the end, he always receives one.

He took a trip to an all-star seven-on-seven event. Most kids probably would have taken that Monday off. He was the first one here. That told me a lot about him, coming back from a long trip and being the first one a practice.

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What makes him a good linebacker?

Speed, and recognizing the play. Basically the speed. He really can run. He’s a 4-4 kid at linebacker that can really get to the ball. If you don’t get him before he gets to move him, you aren't going to catch him. He’s relentless on the field.

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Was there one play he’s made that immediately stands out to you?

A game we were behind this year, he took a toss to the far side of the field. He reversed field and did a 360 and went 65 yards to the end zone without being touched. When I saw that run it told me he was something special to see him do that. Everybody was saying, “Great call, coach.” But it was all him.

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Were you surprised at all that he picked South Carolina over Georgia, Florida and Clemson?

Not really. His family and his grandparents and his mom are all from South Carolina. I kind of thought it might come down to Clemson and South Carolina, and both recruited him pretty hard. When his mom and all them went to South Carolina, he came back and talked about it and said that was where he wanted to go. That was kind of it right there. Most of the SEC schools made a big push to try to get him. Coach Saban really tried to get him. LSU wanted him bad, too.

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What makes him an SEC linebacker?

Speed. When you look at the linebackers in the SEC, everybody is super fast.

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What does he need to do physically between now and when he competes for playing time at South Carolina?

He needs to put on 15 pounds of muscle. He’s going to be a safety or linebacker. He needs to get stronger, continue to train and get even faster. He needs to develop his body and learn more about how to play linebacker.

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Larenz Bryant highlights

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