Sirad Bryant had been on Tennessee’s radar for a while. And last week, he finally got the call he’d been hoping for.
Tennessee outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton called up Bryant to chat a little, then he asked if Bryant had seen his teammate, Christopher Paul Jr., tweet about his offer from the Vols.
That’s when Felton gave an offer to Bryant, too.
“(Felton) asked me how my family was and stuff like that, asked if I saw Chris post his offer, and I told him yeah I did,” Bryant said in a recent interview with RTI. “He then said he was looking to offer me a full ride to Tennessee, too.”
Tennessee’s new outside linebackers coach was once the head coach at Crisp County High School down in Cordele, Georgia, the very school Bryant plays at. Felton was never Bryant’s head coach at Crisp County, but Bryant says he “definitely” knows about Felton from his time with the Cougars.
Not only that, but Tennessee had been recruiting Bryant for a bit. They just hadn’t offered him until last week.
While the offer didn’t necessarily surprise the three-star safety, he was a little taken aback by the timing.
“I had been talking to Tennessee for a little while now, but they hadn’t offered me. Now, they finally offered,” Bryant explained. “I won’t say I was surprised, but I didn’t think it was going to come at that time. They hadn’t really been texting for a bit, so I just thought it was, ‘well, that’s another team down the drain.’
“But then they called and offered me. And that’s a team that I like. I love Tennessee.”
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound safety has only been to Tennessee’s campus once, attending a camp around his sophomore year of high school. That’s how he first got onto the Vols’ board. Once recruits are allowed to visit campuses again after travel restrictions are lifted amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Bryant says UT is “definitely” getting a visit from him.
“I like Tennessee. The weather is great there, and I just like the environment,” Bryant stated. “Tennessee is a great place.”
Bryant is currently rated as the No. 601 overall prospect and No. 46 safety in the 2021 class per the 247Sports Composite rankings. But after a stellar junior season in 2019, Bryant has started to grab more attention.
After totaling 66 tackles, two tackles for loss, six interceptions, six passes defended, and a fumble recovery on defense last season, Bryant really burst onto the scene. Not only that, but he’s used to playing with the ball in his hands, too, as he caught 29 passes for 580 yards and two scores last season according to MaxPreps.
Counting his recent offer from the Vols, Bryant has picked up offers from over a dozen schools since the end of his junior campaign, including two other SEC programs in Ole Miss and Arkansas.
About two weeks ago, Bryant released a list of his top five schools that included Ole Miss, Nebraska, Georgia Tech, Kansas, and USF. But Tennessee’s offer has shaken things up, and Bryant says he plans on changing his top five and will reevaluate things moving forward.
“Like Coach Felton said, ‘That’s not even your top five. That’s your corona five,'” Bryant explained.
Right now, Bryant doesn’t have a solid date as for when he wants to commit, but he’s about “85 percent” certain he knows the general time frame.
The 2020 recruiting calendar has not gone anywhere according to plan for recruits, coaches, or anyone But there have still been plenty of opportunities for coaches to make statements and catch the attention of prospects by their actions (or inaction) during current world events.
Not only is there still a pandemic going on, but the recent Black Lives Matter movement has also been at the forefront of national conversation. Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has shown solidarity with his players with the movement, attending a protest in downtown Knoxville with several UT players and saying last week that the team is considering wearing black jerseys this fall and donating the money from auctioning off the jerseys to benefit the BLM movment.
Something like that really stands out to Bryant.
“That’s another thing I’ve taken into perspective,” Bryant said. “With everything that’s going on now, it shows that Coach Pruitt actually cares. That’s another reason I like Tennessee. That’s huge for the culture to care about stuff like that.
“It looks like everybody is coming together, and it looks like more team chemistry.”