Kristen, Darien's mother, would send me e-mail updates when something would change in regard to her son, Darien Bryant, who played his senior year at Pickerington North High School in the town of the same name (without the North, of course) in the great state of Ohio.
And almost always it was a change in the offers, because Bryant was getting some, then more and then more. Just this last week he got an offer from Michigan State.
But the latest email simply read "He's N."
I knew what that was all about.
Nowadays kids commit so early that we might consider now a time where they are getting down to it while many others have already gotten it done. But for Bryant it was just a feeling out process, which he's now satisfied has gone its full course. So, he called up Nebraska and said that he would be a Husker, and he told us why.
"Just the way I was recruited by Coach (Ron) Brown and Coach Bo Pelini came to see me. He was the only Head Coach who came to see me," Darien said of the Husker head man and Brown, the tight ends Coach who was his primary recruiter. "Coach Brown was always completely honest with me from the beginning. I built a great relationship with him from the beginning. We talked once a week since they started recruiting me."
Of course, there was the visit, and while Darien was smart enough not to let what happens on a game day impact a decision where his future time would mostly be spent away from the football field, he couldn't help but notice that famed "Sea of Red", and the fact that it wasn't just in Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. "They are unique. I guess that's how I would put it. They just don't follow the team in Lincoln, but the entire state," he said. "They just show so much support for their team."
Another seemingly obvious connection here is the fact that the Bryants live in Ohio, and what do you know, it seems like half the Husker coaching staff has roots there.
Well, Darien is actually from Morgantown, Virginia originally. So, there wasn't this connection from that. But considering Ohio is where they live now, the connection didn't hurt. "My mom is really happy about it, because for her it's a lot easier to get to a lot of my games, which wouldn't have been the case with some of the other schools I was considering," said Bryant who chose Nebraska over North Carolina, West Virginia, Hawaii, among others.
"The new move to the Big Ten is going to make things so much easier than they could have been."
It seems not that long ago we as Husker reporters and/or fans, were talking about just how many tight ends there were on the team. And scholarship ones at that. But after this year Michael McNeill and Dreu Young are gone as well as Ryan Hill, who stepped away from the game due to concussions. You then have returning contributors in the form of a couple of sophomores, those being Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed. But the two are very different, physically, and that was one thing Bryant said the coaches saw in him and how they wanted to use him on the team. "They talked about some of the things they want to do, but haven't been able to do because of numbers. They said that I remind them of Kyler Reed," said Bryant who finished his season with 18 catches for 248 yards and a score. "There are things they want to do, that they think they can get closer to doing now that I am going there."
If there is one downside for Bryant right now, it's that he won't be enrolling at Nebraska in January. That's disappointing, because for two years Darien was getting ready and planning to do just that. "There was some NCAA deadline I missed, and because of that I couldn't enroll early. I was really disappointed, because I basically worked for two years, spending 13 hours a day in front of a computer in the Summer - just so I could enroll at a school in January," he said. "Now I can't. And that means I won't have that additional time with my team that I really wanted to have."
As for when he plays when he does finally arrive as the Fall of next year approaches, Bryant said he's not worried about that. Of course he wants to play. What legit player doesn't? But he'll take things simply as they go. "As a competitor you always want to be on the field, no matter when. But I'll do what's best for the team and for my development as a player," he said. "If that means I play right away, great. If not, it will just give me more time to learn the things I need to know."
Of course, we couldn't conclude a commit story without asking the obvious questions which are obligatory nowadays. It's about the idea that we have become well aware that recruiting is never over until it's over. Bryant said he couldn't speak for everyone else, but he could speak for himself.
And...yes, it's over for him.
"I made calls to the schools I wanted to make. I didn't reach everyone, but I tried to let them all know that I committed to Nebraska," he said. "I'm not taking any more visits, because I don't think it's fair to any school you commit to, if you are still going to look around.
"And if coaches continue to recruit me, I guess they can. But I'll tell them all the same thing: I'm a Husker."