If there’s one school Markaviest Bryant is most familiar with, it’s Auburn.
From Crisp County (Ga.), it’s a two-hour drive for the 4-star defensive end/outside linebacker to get to the Plains. His cousin, Montravius Adams, has been an integral part of Auburn football for the better part of four years.
So, Bryant knows the Tigers well. That can be a blessing and curse for Auburn.
“I know a little more about them than any other college, so I maybe observe them more than others,” Bryant told SEC Country. “They might have a couple losses or whatever, but the season’s not over with now. I just want to see how they progress. But I also want so see, ‘Are they going to be able to live up to what they say they are?’ ”
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That’s a pretty loaded quote from one of the top defensive players on anyone’s board.
Bryant is rated the nation’s No. 200 overall prospect, the 21st-ranked player in the state of Georgia. He also finds himself on the long list of players Auburn would like to add on the defensive line, a position group where the Tigers have zero commits right now.
It doesn’t seem likely for Auburn, I’ll say that. He listed his top schools as USC, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Clemson, Florida and Florida State. But his presence in Auburn hasn’t been missed. Bryant attended the Texas A&M game — the only prospect to pick the Aggies — and the LSU game in back-to-back weeks.
For him, it’s all about watching Auburn’s continued development.
“With Auburn, coming into the season, I was always wanting to see what they was about,” Bryant said. “They talked a lot about what they were going to do. I know they aren’t going to do everything they say, but you want to see some.”
Bryant didn’t rave about the Tigers, by any means. He praised the greatness of defensive line coach Rodney Garner, as well as the team’s defensive improvement and effort this season.
But his assessment of the team-wide success isn’t glowing.
“It’s not really much that Auburn impresses me with,” Bryant said.
That might read harsh in text, but it didn’t really come off that way when Bryant verbalized it.
What he was trying to say: He heard a lot of positive things from the Auburn staff and players prior to the 2016 season. Many of those expectations haven’t been fully realized. That’s not to say those things are unattainable, just that he needs to see a little more proof before he makes his decision shortly after his high school season.
A sign of coaching stability will be key. Bryant pointed to his cousin, Adams, and the lack of consistency at defensive coordinator. Since Adams arrived, Auburn has gone through Ellis Johnson, Will Muschamp and now Kevin Steele.
That kind of turnover doesn’t fly with Bryant.
“Since Muschamp left, and that’s like the third defensive coordinator in the past couple years, that staff stability is something that I was really thinking about,” Bryant said. “First of all, the head coach is on the hot seat because of all the stuff that’s going on. And then I don’t think there’s stability.”
This probably all comes off as “Bryant wants nothing to do with Auburn,” but that’s not the complete truth. He’s a regular unofficial visitor and, as he mentioned, he knows Auburn as well as any other program.
But Georgia owns 100 percent of the 11 predictions in the 247Sports Crystal Ball, and Auburn probably won’t get an official visit because of its convenience. It’s not out of the question, though.
“They have a chance, a great chance, but I just want to see them progress,” Bryant said.
Another Crisp County (Ga.) regular
Diving into Class of 2018 territory, Bryant isn’t the only member of his high school team getting Division I looks.
In fact, that defense will have multiple signees in the 2017 and 2018 classes. One junior to watch, as far as Auburn recruiting goes, is Quay Walker. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound outside linebacker adds a nice complement to Bryant’s pass-rushing talent.
Like Bryant, Walker has been in attendance for each of the last two Auburn games. Also, like Bryant, Georgia appears to be the team to beat — though there’s a ton of time left in this race.
For now, Walker’s only Power 5 offers are Auburn, Georgia, Cincinnati, Florida, Mississippi State and Wake Forest. That list will continue to grow.
Dark horse DL candidate in 2017
I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about the fact Auburn has zero defensive line commitments in this class. If you haven’t read it in one of these notebooks, you haven’t been reading close enough.
But it hasn’t changed, and you won’t stop reading about that reality until it changes. We’ve given you the many options on the board — including one earlier in this notebook — but there’s a new kid on the block who could work his way into contention.
Just got invited up to Auburn!!??
— Michael Adams⭐⭐⭐ DT (@tonyadams42) September 28, 2016
Michael Adams is an unknown product, to say the least. He’s only a 2-star defensive tackle from Summerville (Ga.). At 6-foot-1 and 305 pounds, he’s clearly a big boy.
But his offer sheet: West Virginia, Central Florida, Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee State and others in that realm. Auburn would probably launch to the top of that bunch were he to receive an offer, depending on how interested the Tigers were in taking him.