Bryant Putting Aside His Fandom

Duke has always had a good amount of recruiting presence in Ohio. The class of 2011 has seen a handful of targets emerge from that area including Pickerington (Ohio) North standout tight end Darien Bryant. Recently Bryant spoke with TDD to provide a recruiting update.

"I've been in touch with Coach Luke and I've met him in person a couple of times as well," said Darien Bryant. "So far I haven't been able to visit the campus at Duke, but we've talked and I want to do that this summer. I haven't had a chance to meet Coach Cutcliffe yet, but I really respect the amount of commitment he has for Duke. He turned down the Tennessee job for them, which showed a lot. I also really like how genuine Coach Luke has been."

At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and with a 4.53 forty time on the books, Bryant is being recruited by a number of programs including West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Cincinnati, Air Force, and Purdue. Early on many believed the Mountaineers would just need to offer and Bryant would commit. However, that may not be the case as he indicates a willingness to look around and listen to whatever programs bring a recruiting pitch.

"At this point I really don't have a list of favorites. I grew up a fan of West Virginia and Oklahoma having been born in Morgantown and living in Norman before I moved to Ohio. It can be hard at times to set aside your "fandom", but as a recruit it's something you have to do. You have to look at the schools that are recruiting you with an open mind so you can choose one that will fit you the best and where you can make the most of your opportunities."

As for the Blue Devils, Bryant says that the general outline of their pitch has been focused on a few key issues.

"They are talking about the academics, but also really telling me about how they use their tight ends in their offense. Coach Luke told me they want to sign three guys in the class. One thing I'm not really concerned with is the program's past because I think Coach Cutcliffe has them headed in the right direction."

Overall, as with any recruit, Bryant says there are some factors that will carry more weight than others when it comes time to make his decision.

"Academics are a major factor, but the team's offensive style is probably my biggest concern. I want to play in the system that is best suited to my athletic style and ability. I want to find the system where I feel I can really contribute. I also have an appreciation for community support and I like to see and hear a strong fan base - win or lose."

With a level headed approach to the recruiting process, it's little surprise that Bryant also has a pretty even keeled self-scouting report as well.

"I take pride in my blocking.  I don't back down from anyone and I finish my blocks.  A good block means as much to me as a reception - if not more.  I have a strong work ethic and I'm coachable.  I have pretty good speed and versatility for a tight end.  I have good hands but the team I played for over the past two seasons rarely threw so I didn't have much opportunity to show what I can do downfield.  My new coach has told me that he plans to use me in a variety of ways and that he expects me to break the school's reception record this season so I am optimistic that I will be able to establish myself as a viable pass-catching threat this fall."

  "As far as weaknesses are concerned, some coaches have been concerned about my weight being too low for a tight end but I've managed to put on over 15 pounds of muscle since I transferred without sacrificing any of my speed.  In addition to working with the strength coach at my new school, I've also been working with a personal trainer to increase my lower body and core strength.  I'm hoping to increase my playing weight to at least 225 by the time the season starts."  

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