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June 27, 2012
South Carolina nabbed a commitment from one of the nation's top prospects at a big position of need when Charlotte (N.C.) Vance's Larenz Bryant pledged to USC on Monday.
Bryant, who grew up in the Palmetto State, said that comfort level with his home-state school played perhaps the biggest role in the choice.
"I just felt like it was a good fit for me, you know," he told GamecockCentral.com. "I grew up a South Carolina fan. It's home for me. Every time I go there I felt like that's where I wanted to be."
The Gamecock coaching staff, who beat out Clemson, Virginia, and Florida primarily for Bryant's pledge, was cited as another reason that the four-star backer chose the Gamecocks. In particular, offensive line coach Shawn Elliott was assigned later in the process to Bryant and did an excellent job with the Queen City defender.
"Coach (Jay) Graham and Coach (Jeep) Hunter, they did real good coming along. When Coach Elliott came along, I was his main priority. I was the whole Gamecock family's priority just to get me there. He came in from the start and just started attacking. I got letters and emails from him, he just wanted me to know that he was going to get me."
Bryant already has a good idea of how the USC defensive staff wants to utilize him in Columbia. He will start his career at WILL linebacker but could move later down the road.
"Coach (Lorenzo) Ward, he said I will be playing on the inside mostly but that they're looking to put weight on me. They're in the 4-2-5 and he said I can cover and if they put enough weight on me I can play MIKE linebacker. Coach (Kirk) Botkin, he's very energizing, man. Him and Coach Ward are very close so they think the same way."
Bryant called up head coach Steve Spurrier while he was in Omaha watching South Carolina play in the College World Series finals and gave him the good news.
"I just told him I was looking to be a Gamecock and he said he was glad to have me on board finally. He was mainly trying to tell me to finish my senior year strong and that everything else would be put in place afterwards. He told me to have fun."
Family is important to North Carolina's number two prospect in the 2013 class, and he is happy that those close to him can see him play without much difficulty. That, along with the education USC offers helped put the Gamecock program over the top.
"I fell in love with the communications department and the education part," he said. "Like I said, it felt like home. My grandparents can come see me play because they live in South Carolina. My friends and family can see me play. I just love the school, period."
Bryant's goals once he arrives at USC are simple.
"I just want to make an impact as soon as possible," he explained. "Impact the team and impact the state I grew up in."
At running back, Bryant rushed for 1,435 yards with 21 touchdowns in his junior season.
At linebacker, during his junior season he tallied 144 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions.
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