Darien Bryant, who traveled to West Virginia for the Mountaineers' win over Connecticut, has endured a good bit of adversity in what he had hoped would be a breakout junior season in 2009. His Reynoldsburg team has struggled to a 2-7 record, and he has missed three and one-half games due to a hamstring injury he suffered in September. Those two factors have combined for a difficult year for the talented junior, and the frustration he feels is evident when he discusses the season that is winding down.
"We all put in a lot of work over the off-season, and we don't have as good of a record as what we expected," he said. "I got hurt early in the second game, and I've missed 3 ½ games, so I haven't been able to help like I wanted. The coaches had talked to me about playing both ways this year, but with the injury, I have only played on offense. It's just been frustrating."
Bryant has recorded four catches, including one for a score, in Reynoldsburg's run based attack, but that is short of what he hoped to do as he tried to make his mark on both his high school's team and on colleges watching him. It's also clear that while he is thinking about his future, he still is focused on what he can do to help his team salvage what's left of its season.
"We have one game left against Pickerington, and that's our rivalry game. We really want to win that one," Bryant noted.
On the recruiting front, Bryant has been receiving interest from several top-flight Division 1 schools. West Virginia, his early leader, has been in touch often, with Steve Dunlap, his primary recruiter, calling and writing frequently. Bryant visited Ohio State for the USC game, and has also been getting a good bit of personal attention from Tennessee, which is trying to get him for a visit that he may take later this year, and from Maryland. At this point, he still has just one official offer from Toledo, but he hopes that will change when his junior film, which he is assembling, gets to college recruiters.
"I'm putting that together now, and West Virginia is one of the first schools I will get that to," he noted. "WVU told me they are looking for a tight end for next year, and I think I would be a good fit. I've been talking with Coach Mullen and Coach Dunlap, and after going to West Virginia's camp and getting down there for a game, and from what they said, I am hoping that I will get an offer when they see my film."
Bryant had hoped to be a bit further along in the recruiting process at this point. After making the rounds of camps and combines prior to this year, he was anticipating a breakout season on offense, as well as adding some defensive snaps to his resume. An excellent student, he also hopes to graduate early (December 2010) and get a head start on his college career. That involved making an early commitment next summer, but he understands that his injury might cause a crimp in those plans.
"I went to a lot of camps and combines this year, and I got a lot of interest from schools, including West Virginia," he recounted. "That doesn't show everything about football, because it's still in shorts and no pads. I think getting more offers will depend on what colleges see in the film that I send out, and I hope that when they do they see how I can play. I will just have to wait and see how that plays out."
Bryant had another good visit to West Virginia, talking to Mullen and Dunlap and taking in West Virginia's win. He noted that there was a different feel to the game given the circumstances of Jasper Howard's death and its aftereffects, but he has been to other WVU games and knows what game day is usually like.