Big-play linebacker will bring VU speed, power

The Commodore staff picked up its 15th commitment just before Christmas when <B>Brandon Bryant</b>, a 6-1, 220-pound linebacker from talent-rich Cincinnati-St. Xavier High School, gave Vandy a verbal.

When Steve Specht stepped in to replace legendary Cincinnati-St. Xavier High School Coach Steve Rasso last summer, he knew he would be stepping into tremendous shoes. Rasso, who retired after 26 seasons with the Bombers, compiled a 189-86-2 record and guided the Bombers to state and national prominence.

Fortunately for Specht, the cupboard left by Rasso was well-stocked. For starters, there was elite quarterback Rob Schoenhoft, a member of the Midwest Top 100, who made a commitment to Ohio State in the summer of 2004.

Then there was the Bomber defense, led by havoc-wreaking linebackers Brandon Bryant and Drew Quinn. The flamboyant, 6-1, 220-pound Bryant, who made an official visit to Vanderbilt the weekend of Dec. 3, recently became the second member of the Bombers to commit to a Division I-A program.

When Bryant gave Commodore coaches his verbal commitment the week before Christmas, he became the 15th player to pledge to be part of Vandy's signing class of 2005.

In Specht's first season, the Bombers were able to continue the school's strong football tradition, by going undefeated in the regular season and finishing 11-1. And despite sitting out some games with injuries, Bryant was a huge part of the Bombers' successes.

On the season he recorded 80 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and a school-record 14 sacks. He was also credited with five forced fumbles. For his efforts, Bryant earned first-team All-Greater Catholic League honors, as well as first-team all-district and second-team all-state honors in Division I. A three-sport star with 4.6 speed in the 40, Bryant also represents St. X on the basketball court and in track.

Cincinnati's Greater Catholic League, which includes St. Xavier, Bishop Elder and Moeller, has been a rich source of talent over the years. Nick Lyle (2000-03) also played at St. Xavier, while Dan Stricker and Pat Brunner played at rival Elder. One of Vanderbilt's quarterbacks of the mid-1990's, Mike Healey, was also a St. Xavier alumnus.

Bryant joins Quavian Lewis as Vanderbilt's only linebacker commitments to date. For a complete list of Vanderbilt's commitments, click here. National Signing Day is Feb. 4.

To see film of a sack by Bryant in this year's game vs. Elder, click here.

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