Print and Go Back ESPN.com: On The Trail: Southeast Region [Print without images]

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
LB Bryant leaves the state, chooses Vols

By Greg Ostendorf

Gavin Bryant (Jackson, Ala./Jackson) had offers from Alabama and Auburn, but neither in-state program was ready to take a commitment from the ESPN 300 linebacker. He grew tired of waiting, and after a visit to Tennessee over the weekend, he committed to the Volunteers on Monday.

“I want to play in the SEC, and Tennessee is an SEC school,” Bryant said. “I really didn’t want to leave the state, but Alabama and Auburn were holding back on me. Tennessee was neck and neck with Alabama and Auburn. I feel like Tennessee was better than all the rest of the schools I went to, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger.”

On his latest trip to Knoxville, Bryant spent time with the coaching staff and further developed his relationship with head coach Butch Jones.

“The coaches showed me a lot of love with the recruiting process,” Bryant said. “They get a friendship with everybody. They built the best relationship of all the rest of the schools that I went to. The Miami coach showed me a lot of love, too, but Tennessee was closer to home.”

Is it too late for Alabama and Auburn? It looks that way. Bryant says he’s going to stick with what he’s got even if he receives a committable offer from either the Tide or the Tigers. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound prospect is just relieved to have his decision behind him.

“It feels a little better,” Bryant said. “It will probably help me play a little better on Friday night without that on my back.”

Tennessee now has 17 commitments for 2014, including seven in the new ESPN 300 rankings which came out Monday. The Volunteers moved up to No. 6 in the latest class rankings.