Bryant A Breakout Player For NC State?

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sophomore defensive tackle Eurndraus Bryant is looking to impact this fall for NC State.

Growing up in Fort Dortchester, South Carolina, Eurndraus Bryant found out at an early age that he was a really good athlete, but it came playing a sport you might not expect.

"I first realized I could be an athlete when I was playing soccer," he said, laughing.  "I think that was my come-up moment. That's when my athleticism started popping up. My mom started noticing it. She was saying I was running up and down the field... non-stop.

"Then I moved into basketball. Once I was running up and down the court there, everybody saw it then in basketball. Then I finally moved to baseball. Once I hit baseball, that's when they saw, this guy could do everything. I played baseball, that was my first love... finally came football."

When you're weighing over 300 pounds early in high school, it can normally lead to football, which was the case for Bryant, even though he still managed to be named All-Region after leading his team in batting (.480) as a senior first baseman.  

On the gridiron he starred at defensive tackle, as he totaled 65 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, and six sacks in 2014.  However, his recruitment didn't really take off.  He used a strong performance in the Shrine Bowl to land an offer from NC State, even though he was highly productive.

"I think most of it was my size," said Bryant.  "When they saw my size, they didn't think I would be good enough player at that level.  I'm not the tallest defensive tackle, and I think because of my weight, they thought I would run out of stamina early.  I don't think they felt I would be dependable."

Bryant arrived at NC State in 2015 and performed well enough in fall camp to earn playing time as a true freshman.  However, weighing over 350 pounds, that time had to be limited.  All spring and summer he worked hard in the weight room with Wolfpack S&C coach Dantonio Burnette.

"It was tough," said Bryant.  "He really had me grinding. He helped me get my weight down. I knew that I had to do it.  Now I'm feeling way better. Defense practice, last year I couldn't do practice... the entire time, now I can."

"He was nearly 360 pounds, and now he's 328," Burnette said of Bryant.  "He squats over 600 pounds... he benched 405 pounds, and he's been here just a year.  He's a very strong guy who is very agile and athletic."

Bryant has since worked his way down to 323 pounds and was one of the Wolfpack's top performers during fall camp.  Head coach Dave Doeren raved about his play a couple of weeks ago.

"I'm not going to say he's unblockable, but he's been pretty close," said Doeren. "He's rolling right now.  He's moving well. He has unbelievable feet and hips for a guy that big. Thunder has done a great job conditioning him. Last year he'd play two plays and he had to hit the sidelines.  He's able to sustain it now."

A major reason for Bryant's improvement on the field has been working under defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen.

"He's a good guy," Bryant said of his position coach.  "He's full of knowledge. He knows the game. He knows what he's talking about. He studies a lot. He knows NFL-type workouts, to get us better."

Currently second-string behind junior Justin Jones, Bryant believes the defensive line could be a strength for State this season.  At tackle, three juniors anchor the front and are leaders as well.

"That group, they've got phenomenal experience," Bryant said.  "They've been here 3 years now. BJ played as a freshman, Monty played as a freshman... Justin. You come up and everyday you see these guys working hard, and it's going to make you work hard. They're doing good things out there on the game field.

"We can be as tough as we want to be. We're calling us. We got to do it ourselves here."

For Bryant, he's looking to see the program take the next step and finish games against elite programs like Clemson and Florida State.

"For this team it would be real good because I know we haven't beaten teams like Clemson in some years now," he said.  "That would be a big turnaround for his club. This atmosphere around here. If we just play one game at a time, do what we're supposed to do and get our job done, we can do it.

"There were a lot of games we were just, we had them, and then they just got one mistake. This game is tough that you can't just make one mistake. You make one mistake and that's the difference between winning and losing right there."

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