Atlantic's Keith Bryant -- finally -- makes it official, picking FSU
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
by Matt Porter
Increasingly comfortable as a showman during recruiting season, Keith Bryant made it clear he had a bag of tricks ready for national signing day.
On Wednesday, he carried a bag of hats around Atlantic's campus, but here was little drama when he finally picked up one that was garnet and gold.
Bryant, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive tackle, was expected to choose Florida State and he did, capping a recruiting journey that could be described as circus-like.
Bryant reveled in the attention and played it to the hilt, dropping hints he might sign with FSU, Miami, South Carolina, Tennessee, Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Auburn and Kentucky, among many others. There was the ill-fated flirtation with FAU that ended with him and teammate Todney Evans being dismissed from an official visit over the weekend for being disrespectful, FAU officials said.
But Bryant maintained he was just having fun and he looked so in his moment, smiling through a live broadcast on ESPNU.
"I will be attending the Florida State University," he said for the cameras, before explaining that his bond with the players and coaching staff, plus the opportunity to stay relatively close to his 1-year-old daughter, Kaniyah, helped make his decision.
Coral Gables is, of course, just an hour south of Delray Beach. That's why Bryant wondered why the Hurricanes weren't more involved.
Off-camera, Bryant said he made his decision more than a month ago. It was further solidified when Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher made a January visit to Bryant's home, rather than -- he and his family claimed -- sending assistant coaches like Miami and South Carolina, his other finalists.
"Al Golden didn't go to the house," said Bryant's older brother, Henry. "[Steve] Spurrier didn't go to the house. They sent their boys to the house. Jimbo came to the house."
But a UM source said that at the family's request, Golden met with Bryant and his family at a local restaurant in January, at which time Bryant affirmed the UM verbal commitment he made last spring.
Bryant said Southern Cal made a strong, late impression on him. Kentucky also opened his eyes when they offered, according to Bryant, to sign teammates Brisly Estime, Todney Evans and Tevin Spells along with him.
Estime, who felt more than a little more stress during his recruitment, signed with Syracuse. At different points over the past year, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound receiver and kick returner believed himself headed to Miami, Purdue, Marshall, Iowa State and Arkansas. A week before signing day, however, he held no scholarship offers. Thankfully, a late offer from the Orange came. He smiled as he put on the only hat in front of him.
"I don't do the hat tricks," he joked.
Evans chose Middle Tennessee State over Western Michigan, citing an opportunity for early playing time with the Blue Raiders. Spells signed with Tennessee State. Defensive back Fritz Narcisse signed with Virginia Beach Institute, a Division III Juco.
Tight end Sam Kelley, who suffered a serious ankle injury his junior year and incurred a six-week suspension the first week of his senior year, signed with Bethune-Cookman.
"I felt like that was going to stop me from playing college football," Kelley said. "I learned from my mistakes."
Across town, the story at American Heritage was the size of the Stallions' signing class. Fifteen football players announced their intentions, most of which were already publicly known.
At one end of the table sat the Stallions' big three: Notre Dame-bound running back Greg Bryant, newly minted Auburn wide receiver Marcus Davis and Florida-signed offensive tackle Roderick Johnson.
"It's a blessing just to be here," Bryant said.
There was also tight end Tyler Provo (Syracuse), linebacker Evan Harvey (Lehigh), linebacker Jake Giordano and safety Xavier Swinton (Miami of Ohio), safety Darrion Richardson (Southern Methodist), kicker Greg Joseph (FAU walk-on), linebacker Chad Veccharella and cornerback Colon Wright (St. Joseph's, Ind.), linebacker Josh Holley (Virginia Beach Institute), offensive lineman Milton Michel (Union), and Eric Cowart (Northwood University of Michigan). Tight end Isaac Leon, plans to accept a preferred walk-on at Miami.
As American Heritage football coach and athletic director Stacy Sizemore announced the players, the lights in the gym went out. "That was not planned," he said.
For a few moments, it took the shine off of the impressive slew of athletes -- 25 in total -- that enjoyed their moment in the spotlight.
"There are millions of dollars in college scholarships sitting behind me," Heritage headmaster Bob Stone said.
Palm Beach Post staff writer Jorge Milian contributed to this report.