VERBAL: Athletic D-End Goes Vandal

GOING INTO THIS RECRUITING SEASON it was anticipated Idaho would be putting a premium on linemen to load up the defensive front. Last weekend Idaho received verbal commitments from two high school defensive ends, including HANK BRYANT, a 6-4, 225-pound high-octane League MVP and Northwest Hot 100 selection out of western Washington.

Tumwater High School senior Hank Bryant has a clear message to the Vandal Nation -- "I can't wait to get there!"

The 6-4, 225-pound athlete - considered by most to be the top athlete in the South Sound this season - did it all for the Thunderbirds, lining up this season as fullback, tight end, defensive end and punter on a team that went 11-1 on the season and made it to the Washington Class 2A quarterfinals before registering their first loss on the year. His overall focus has been defense, but prior to this season his focus on offense was tightend. This year he filled the team's need at fullback - a relatively new position - and he delivered 1,032 yards on 125 carries while scoring 14 rushing touchdowns. For his efforts Bryant was a unanimous choice as MVP for the Evergreen Conference, and was named the 2007 All-Area Player of the Year by The Olympian.

Bryant was also named to the Superprep Northwest Hot 100 list on October 23rd, ranking 88th in a region that includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii, Utah, and Alaska.

Bryant registered 30 tackles on the year.
Bryan'ts announcement in front of Idaho head coach Robb Akey during his visit to Moscow last weekend earned the same reaction that Akey has reportedly delivered all year -- The high flying Akey went airborne and busted out a few calls of "Bubba!" after Bryant told him he wanted to don the silver and gold next fall.

"I told him I wanted to play for him and I wanted to be a Vandal. He was excited about that," laughed Bryant.

Bryant said there wasn't any one thing that tipped the scales in Idaho's favor regarding his selection (he had offers from Fresno State and Idaho State), but sincerity and down to earth coaches and players, as well as the recruiting group there this weekend all played a role in his decision.

"It was pretty much everything...what coach Akey did this year and how far they've come and improved, and the whole staff there too," said Bryant. "The staff, not even knowing them but having them come up and shake my hand, being really excited in me from seeing my video, and that I had interest in them, that was another part of it."

Bryant rushed for 1032 yards and 14 TDs.
Bryant's trip to the Idaho campus helped to seal the deal, but it is the impact that Coach Akey and his staff are making on the recruits and their parents that is really closing the deal.

"The official visit, that was lots of fun," said Bryant. "The other recruits were all cool, all the coaches were nice to all of them and we did a lot of stuff. The [previous in-home] visit to the house was also important, my parents love coach Akey, that's a big part too. He [Akey] said what he'd like me to do, and what he'd do for me. And he wasn't BS-ing or anything, and he looked me right in the eye. He wouldn't move away until I was done talking, just little things like that [made a difference]."

Same goes for what current players on the Vandal roster are saying when recruits come to town - how they describe their experience playing for Coach Akey and his staff.

"I asked the players [on the Idaho roster] how the coaches were, and every player spent at least five minutes talking about what was good about each coach," said Bryant.

Idaho is recruiting Bryant to play defensive end this fall, and he joins Charles Smith (6-6, 240) and Henry Asuega (6-0, 261) as early defensive line commits for the Vandals.

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