The Tennessee Volunteers scored a major coup on Monday afternoon, landing 4-star linebacker Gavin Bryant from Jackson, Alabama.
Greg Ostendorf of ESPN Recruiting Nation broke the news:
A violent inside linebacker with size, strength and instincts, Bryant is an impressive prospect for the Vols going forward. He has tremendous potential as a run-stopper in the middle, which is patently important in a conference with Alabama, LSU, Georgia and other SEC powerhouses.
According to 247 Sports, he also runs a 4.6 40, so he should be able to keep up with—if not outrun altogether—some of the conference's best inside receiving threats.
Per ESPN's Derek Tyson, Tennessee getting a commitment from Bryant came as a minor shock, since he had recently named Florida and Alabama his two leaders:
However, Bryant didn't have committable offers on the table from either school, which likely had a part to play in his defection:
It's important to note that Bryant to Tennessee is not a done deal. He still has a long way to go before signing. If Florida or Alabama ever make a better offer, there's a chance he could be snatched away. But there's no use in getting hung up on hypothetical scenarios.
As of this moment, Bryant is a Vol.
Getting a player like Bryant to commit in such unlikely fashion—especially convincing him to leave the state of Alabama and go to Tennessee—is an impressive first-year move from Butch Jones. The former Cincinnati boss has no southeastern roots to speak of, having lived and coached in the midwest for most of his life. To some, this made him a skeptical hire this offseason.
But Jones has proven, time and time again, that he is capable of recruiting in the SEC. This is just his latest feat. He already has verbal commitments from 16 recruits, including highly-touted in-state guys like RB Jalen Hurd and S Todd Kelly Jr.
Ten of Tennessee's projected defensive starters are upperclassmen, so Bryant's services might be needed sooner than later. If his skills translate to the SEC as quickly as his new head coach has, that shouldn't be a problem at all.