So what do the Scout.com national analysts think of the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Bryant?
First, the particulars. Bryant is ranked the No. 6 tight end nationally by Scout.com, the No. 2 tight end out west, right behind Stanford-bound Colby Parkinson. He is ranked as the 230th best player in the country, regardless of position.
“Bryant plays both tight end and defensive end and is a load to deal with. On offense, he lines up more like a big receiver, often playing in the slot. He catches the ball very well and once he gets out in the open field, he's like trying to tackle a tank. He's very well put together and has a college body right now. He routinely breaks 2-3 tackles every catch and is strong in jump situations inside the red zone as well.” - Scout.com National Analyst Greg Biggins.
“Bryant may be the most pure receiver at the tight end spot out West in this class. What I love about him, from watching him last spring and summer, is just what a terrific all-around football player he is. Watching him play some linebacker in 7on7, if he wanted to concentrate on that, he absolutely is a Power 5 linebacker prospect, but he’s so dangerous as a pass-catching weapon. He’s probably the best jumbo athlete in the Northwest since Myles Jack, but unlike Jack, he wants to focus on offense in college and the Husky coaches have to love his ability to be a big threat in the passing game." - Scout.com National Analyst Brandon Huffman.
What does it mean for the tight ends going forward?
Well, here’s one snapshot as to how the tight end group could look like for the Huskies in 2017:
David Ajamu (6-5, 246, Sr.)
Derek Hunter (6-2, 227, Sr.)*
Will Dissly (6-4, 273, Sr.)
Drew Sample (6-5, 260, Jr.)
Mike Neal (6-4, 237, So.)
Jacob Kizer (6-4, 250), RFr.)
Hunter Bryant (6-3, 235, Fr.)
Don’t assume that just because Bryant is in the boat the Huskies won’t still make a push for another top west coast tight end, Jimmy Jaggers. They are in a great spot for Jaggers, who recently visited Washington the same weekend Bryant did before making his decision. IF they were able to land both Bryant and Jaggers, they would be getting two of the better ‘jumbo’ athletes on the west coast. That means even more flexibility in the passing game for UW OC Jonathan Smith.
Because this is the biggest part of Bryant’s game, and it shouldn’t be underestimated: Hunter Bryant isn’t just a tight end. He is a receiver. That means, even though he can play inline and be a solid blocking tight end, his biggest threat comes when he can match up as a bigger target against linebackers and dragging them down the field. He should absolutely be a mismatch nightmare.
From a depth and versatility standpoint, Bryant’s ability to play X, Y, Z, H means the Huskies are getting a ton of bang for the buck with his commitment. He’s not as physically imposing as Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but when you think about how Washington was able to use ASJ in the passing game you start to see how Smith could use Bryant in the future.
For the tight end room, Bryant’s inclusion will be immediately welcomed. They will have lost two seniors - Darrell Daniels and Jeff Lindquist - after the 2016 season, so an immediate infusion of talent to push the rest is required. Bryant will add that the moment he steps on the field. And if Jaggers joins him, the more the merrier.
What does this mean for Washington going forward in terms of landing more quality for the 2017 class?
Well, here’s a quick snapshot of Washington’s current 2017 recruiting class, as well as how they currently stand compared to the rest of the Pac-12.
Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Petersen and his staff will dismiss stars, ratings and rankings as hooey, but in recruiting perception is reality. And since momentum in recruiting can come and go with the wind, it’s important to strike while the stars are aligned. And right now, Washington’s brand is one of the hottest out west.
With a smallish class expected (~17 or so expected for 2017), the Huskies can’t afford to make mistakes as they continue to push upward.
Finally, we’ve talked about it many times but it bears repeating: the Huskies need to keep the in-state studs home. It has since been deleted, but when Petersen ‘woofed’ on Twitter, he added a special hashtag. It was all about keeping the local talent local. I’m sure it was deleted because it was a thinly-veiled nod to Bryant, but it should have been taken as a sign to others, like Foster Sarell, Henry Bainivalu, and Salvon Ahmed.
Pete knows Washington is at its best when they not just have a recruiting fence around the state, but that fence looks more like a 20-foot wall. The Huskies may be the only team in FBS that has three players from the same high school in the three-deeps at the same position: Jake Eldrenkamp, Michael Kneip, and Henry Roberts - all Bellevue High School products.
That shouldn’t be considered a small thing, especially for a provincial program like Washington. Even though the Huskies play football up in the northwest corner of the country, they aren’t isolated. Their recruiting reach stretches beyond the west coast, but its epicenter has always been western Washington. When UW keeps the kids, they win. It’s a fact.