Published February 19, 2013 - 11:00am
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SDS has already looked at the top 25 players for 2012, and now with National Signing Day in the books, let’s look at the top newcomers in the SEC for 2013. Predicting the top newcomers is often very tough, and these aren’t just merely rankings of the top players. We’re going to look at what type of impact they’ll make and where they’ll make it.
No. 24 – Larenz Bryant, OLB, South Carolina
From: Charlotte, N.C. (Zebulon B. Vance)
Size: 6-1, 215-pounds, 4.43 40
The Skinny: The state of South Carolina has been known as a sleeper state for blue-chip prospects, and the Gamecocks have taken full advantage of that over the last four years, signing the state’s top player each year. However, in a down year of in-state talent, and in order to fill needs with difference makers, South Carolina had to venture out of state to get them. And North Carolina-native and outside linebacker Larenz Bryant fit that mold to a T. Bryant is athletic enough to play several positions, including running back or even safety, but he’ll start as an outside linebacker and could grow into an inside linebacker or the coveted Spur position. Bryant rushed for 1,694 yards and scored 21 touchdowns as a senior, but he racked up 84 tackles, nine sacks, six pass deflections, two fumble recovers and one 80-yard INT return for a touchdown on defense. To say this cat is versatile isn’t giving him enough credit. Bryant has size and athletic ability – two things coaches can’t teach, and once he gets his feet wet as an outside backer in the SEC, Bryant will develop into a big-time player.
Where he’ll make an impact: Not only did South Carolina ink a top prospect overall in Bryant, but they signed one who will fill a need immediately. The Gamecocks lose four of their top five tacklers on defense, and two of those were linebackers Shaq Wilson and Reginald Bowen. Along with Wilson and Bowen, USC also lost linebackers Quin Smith and Demario Jeffery and Spur DeVonte Holloman. Combined, these five linebackers racked up 273 total tackles. So, to say there is a need at linebacker is like saying Jadeveon Clowney is good at football. It’s not too often freshmen linebackers make big impacts their first season. Sure, Bryant could use an extra 20-25 pounds, but because of depth issues, Bryant should make an impact immediately, and he’ll prove he’s one of the top newcomers in the SEC for 2013.
Other impact newcomers:
Photo Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports