Linebackers are a top priority for Kentucky in the Class of 2014, and the Wildcats appear to be casting a wide net with a good number of scholarship offers already on the table.
One of them was issued to Gavin Bryant, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound middle linebacker from Jackson (Ala.) High School. He is coming off a junior season which saw him rack up 110 tackles and eight sacks, as well as a reputation for being one of the hardest-hitting defenders in his area.
"The coaches say they love my combination of size and speed," Bryant said. "And especially how hard I hit."
Those attributes have not been lost on some of the SEC's top programs. Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Florida and UK are among his growing list of scholarship offers, which is now up to 17. Other top national programs like Miami and Clemson have also offered.
"Coach (Derrick) Ansley is my recruiting coach at Kentucky," Bryant said. "I'm really liking him. He has taken a lot of time to build a relationship with me. He's on it."
Asked what the UK assistant says about how he could help the Wildcats, Bryant said: "He told me they have a big need for linebackers with their main guy (starting middle linebacker Avery Williamson) graduating after this year. He said there's a strong chance that somebody like me could come in and have a chance to start right away."
That opportunity could give UK a fighting chance against home state programs like Alabama and Auburn. Bryant said he grew up a Crimson Tide fan and was thrilled to pick up an offer from Nick Saban, but he is giving much consideration to other schools where he might make an earlier impact.
"The depth chart will be a big part of my decision," he said. "I would like to be able to play early."
Asked if being close to home was a factor in his recruiting process, Bryant said: "It would be nice to play close to home, but it wouldn't be a problem to leave. Not at all. Wherever the best fit for me is as a person and a player, that's where I'll go. But I'd really like to be in the SEC."
He has yet to visit UK, but says a trip to Lexington may be in the works this summer. "I need to get up there and learn more about them. I'm hearing a lot about coach (Mark) Stoops and their new coaching staff, good stuff about them."
He wants to visit all of the SEC schools which have offered him. Bryant has been on unofficial visits to Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina so far.
Alabama LB likes what he's hearing from UK
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