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February 6, 2013
CHARLOTTE -- South Carolina has signed another Top-20 recruiting class in 2013 and the crown jewel is linebacker Larenz Bryant (Charlotte, N.C./Vance). Bryant put pen to paper for USC early on Wednesday.
"It is a beautiful moment," Bryant said. "I'm just enjoying it today. I'm actually signing my life to a school and receiving a scholarship. I'm proud and blessed to have this opportunity."
There wasn't much drama in Bryant's recruitment as he committed to the Gamecocks in late June. Bryant did grow up a Gamecock fan and said that Wednesday was a dream come true for him.
"I did grow up a South Carolina fan," Bryant said. "I've always enjoyed watching them and I enjoyed watching them this year. The program has been growing each year. Pretty much, this is one of the most blessed days of my life. It is pretty much a dream come true. A lot of people don't have this opportunity. I definitely would consider this a dream."
Bryant signed with USC over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech, just to name a few.
"It is SEC football and I'm from South Carolina," Bryant said about why he will be playing for the Gamecocks. "We are the No. 7 team in the nation and we are ranked highly in defense every year. It is a good program to come into and they are losing a lot of senior linebackers. That is something that would get me on the field earlier and quicker. Pretty much everything fell into place."
Bryant took his official visit to USC the weekend of Jan. 25 and he said he enjoyed his time.
"My host was Jody Fuller and he showed me a good time," Bryant said. "We went out and I was able to talk with all of the coaches. I got to sit in coach (Steve) Spurrier's office and have a one-on-one with him. He just wanted to make sure I finish strong with my grades. He has been the main one really on my grades and finishing out the season on a good academic note. I drove around the city and looked at where my dorm and everything would be. It was fun that entire weekend."
Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott was the recruiter of record for Bryant and defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward was also involved. Bryant has spent plenty of time with the USC coaching staff and knows how he will be used in the defense.
"They pretty much want me to play the weakside linebacker," Bryant said. "I would be used a lot against the pass and blitzing. I would have to cover the running back and the tight end. I would be a cover guy. They also want me to stay in the box and be a run-stopper."
There should be plenty of competition at linebacker during the fall and that was very appealing to Bryant. USC lost its entire two-deep at linebacker and the coaching staff has expressed to Bryant that he will be counted on immediately.
"Once I get more muscle weight on me, I will immediately be able to get in the rotation," Bryant said. "I leave May 30 to start summer school and learn the playbook. I'm going to get some muscle tone on me. I want to get up to 225 or 230 before next season."
Bryant measured in at 6-feet and 215 pounds on his official visit a couple weeks ago.
USC linebackers coach Kirk Botkin was also involved with Bryant and will be coaching him for the next few years.
"Coach Botkin is amazing," Bryant said. "Every time I talk to him he is very energetic on the phone. He will call me early in the morning and wake me up. He is all loud. When I see him in person he keeps a smile on face. He is an energetic person. During football practice he is going to have his linebackers up and active."
Bryant played both ways at Vance. He finished his senior season with over 100 tackles and 12 sacks. He also rushed for close to 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. He talked about his expectations at USC during his freshman year and his whole career.
"I just want to get bigger, stronger and faster so I can get on the field," Bryant said. "I want to play as soon as possible and get my name out there. I want to have a good season and make it to the national championship and ranked high in the nation. Playing one more year with Jadeveon (Clowney) will be a good thing. The linemen will have to double-team him and that will leave the linebackers open. Instead of having close games, we can start blowing teams out and having real good wins."
Bryant also talked about what team is he is most looking forward to playing and the moment he can't wait to happen at USC.
"The team I'm most looking forward to playing would probably be Florida," Bryant said. "We lost Matt Rolin. They took our Gamecock away from us so that will be a good game to play in. It will be a good SEC battle. The moment I'm most looking forward to would probably be getting my first defensive touchdown, first interception, first tackle and first big play. The real moment I'm looking forward to is getting to that first BCS bowl bid and playing in a BCS game."
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