‘Big Cat’ to the Tigers? That possibility seems strong for UGA target Markaviest Bryant

Major Georgia target Markaviest "Big Cat" Bryant (left) saw a lot to think about after his official visit to LSU last weekend.

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Conflicted. Got some big-time thinking to do. We’ve got ourselves a head-scratcher. 

We can fill in the blank with all of the above when it comes to the upcoming decision of Crisp County star Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant with all the above terms.

I’m pretty sure any of those will likely apply.

Bryant’s decision for the longest time seemed like Georgia was in the preferred position and would be the team to beat in the end.

That might still be the way to look at it if a paper cut causes drops of red and black to bleed across your workstation this morning.

Markaviest Bryant and his coach Shelton Felton (right) completed a dramatic turnaround season at Crisp County this year. Those two have some major thinking to do after he gets back on Sunday from his final official visit. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

But that would not be the most well-informed opinion. Crisp County coach Shelton Felton said things have changed considerably with Bryant after his latest visit to LSU.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder shared a few images on Snapchat that showed his real interest. He took a lap around Death Valley and typed the words “in love” over that video image on one of his snaps.

“It was shocking,” Felton said. “At one time you thought maybe LSU didn’t have a chance with the coaching change but then he loved Coach (Ed Orgeron) from the summer when he went over there and worked out with him.”

Felton said that Bryant had a different reaction to his LSU official. He had a genuine feel for the place. It didn’t seem like Georgia earned that same response when Bryant was in Athens for his official earlier this month.

Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant is rated as the nation’s No. 14 DE for the Class of 2017. Could the “Big Cat” soon be prowling the line of scrimmage in Death Valley? (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

“He just kept calling me and telling me he loved everything about LSU,” Felton said. “The stadium. The coaches. It has been a while since he smiled so hard like he did on that visit and had such a great time. I was talking to him this morning and LSU is up in the running from him.”

Felton said that LSU “might be right beside Georgia” at this time.

His high school coach also felt like the LSU visit was Bryant’s best official up to this point.

“I am going to be honest with you and say that LSU might have been the first time he’s been this excited (about recruiting) since our first trip when this first started happening,” Felton said. “It was all brand new to him. LSU was something just brand new to him. It was all just brand new to him.”

Here are a few things to get up to speed on the 4-star DE/OLB prospect:

  • He’s an Under Amour All-American.
  • Rated as the nation’s No. 14 weak-side DE and as the No. 180 player overall. He’s also rated as the No. 18 player in Georgia this year.
  • He’s taken official visits to Alabama, Georgia and LSU up to this point. A mid-week official to Arkansas is up next. That will be followed by a final official to Auburn this weekend.
  • Bryant told DawgNation after his final high school game in December that Georgia seemed like the team to beat.
  • LSU was also the team he referred to as his dream school growing up.
  • Felton said that Bryant’s mother also really enjoyed that LSU visit.
  • Bryant wants to major in Mechanical Engineering. The feeling is both Georgia and LSU match up well with the future career pursuit. Auburn will have to convince him of the same on that official visit.

What is his interest level in Arkansas?

“I think it is more curiosity,” Felton said. “But then knowing that they are going more to a ‘3-4’ defense and they need guys like him. I hate to say they don’t have guys like him, but they don’t have a guy that fits that outside linebacker mold right now in that defense. There’s just a curiosity there in going to see what they are all about.”

When it comes to getting snaps, it seems likely that Bryant could play faster at both Arkansas and Auburn. LSU is also a consideration there. The Tigers don’t have a signee or a commitment quite like Bryant on their way yet for this cycle.

Length. Size. Speed. Tenacity. That’s what all the SEC schools that are chasing him see in Bryant. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

“I think playing time mean a lot to him but I don’t think it means more than being developed,” Felton said. “Like we all know you only have a certain amount of life on your body when it comes to football. Playing early and getting into the action helps out. But the main key is going to be who can turn him into a premier pass rusher.”

A major Key for Bryant’s decision

Bryant has told Dawgnation many times that he understands the spin of the sell from his recruiters. That’s why he knows to go to guys that he can trust. That’s the players on the current team who he knows “will keep it real” with him.

Lorenzo Carter is a guy like that at Georgia. Arden Key is definitely now a guy like that now for LSU. Key set the single-season sack record in Baton Rouge as a sophomore and he will be returning for his junior season.

Markaviest Bryant’s hands have been measured at more than 10 inches wide. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

“Just having the chance to hang out with (Arden) Key was something,” Felton said. “That’s a guy from Georgia who’s built just like him. Standing side-by-side you might have thought that they were brothers. He saw the development with Key. When Key told him the great things that Coach (Orgeron) did for his career, it just intrigued him.”

Bryant also shared via another SnapChat “snap” just how much those discussions meant to him.

How did Georgia react to the LSU visit?

“I won’t say a panic but they are reaching out,” Felton said. “They are going to make a visit this week to come back and see him before he leaves to go back out to Arkansas. Once he leaves for Arkansas and Auburn, then nobody will see him once he gets back from Auburn. We are going to sit down and decide what he is going to do and we are going to leave it at that. Once he gets back from Auburn, we are going to shut down all recruiting.”

Bryant will return from Auburn on Sunday evening.

“I think me personally it is going to come down to a three-horse race,” Felton said. “He thinks a lot of Georgia. It is his home state. Everybody in the community wants him to go to Georgia. His dream to play (growing up) was LSU. He went there and had a great time with ‘Coach O.’ He likes (Auburn defensive line coach Rodney) Garner. Coach Garner has developed kids a lot. I coached Montravius Adams at Dooly County. Come to find out that he and (Markaviest) are cousins. It is a small word and Montravius told him a lot of great things about Auburn. I think — unless something great happens at Arkansas that we don’t know about yet — that it will come down to Georgia, LSU and Auburn.”

How he will make his decision

Felton gave a little insight into the method Bryant will use to sort his decision out.

“We are going to come into the office and we are going to get up on the board and we are going to draw up every school’s name that is in it,” Felton said. “We are going to do the pros and cons for each and every one of them. He’s going to make a decision and we are going to keep it in the room.”

He added that the team that wins out will find out that Wednesday morning.

“Then we are going to have a big ceremony at Crisp County High School at 11 o’clock that morning for him,” Felton said.

Debut of a new blog mini-game

Short and sweet. Just give me the info, man. Will this prospect be in the class or out of the class? Is he a “take” for the Bulldogs? Has he lost his “take” status? What’s the latest?

I’ll try to put together a semi-daily Intel feature that rounds up everything I’m hearing and seeing for UGA’s class. I’ll share those answers in the format everyone remembers from the magic 8-ball toy that was developed and manufactured by Mattel.

What if we applied this novel toy to college football recruiting? Would it work? (Mattelgames.com)

The toy, according to Wikipedia and not one of our Georgia Tech or M.I.T. readers, is an icosahedron. If we know our geometry, that’s the term for a polyhedron with 20 faces. (I know. What’s a polyhedron? Work with me here, folks.)

247Sports has its popular “Crystal Ball” prediction feature. We’ll trot out the DawgNation 8-ball for the next week leading up to National Signing Day.

Did you know the mainstream version of the popular toy has 20 different answers? I’m sure you knew that when I dropped the term “icosahedron” earlier. (Side note: I don’t see why more high schools don’t adopt the “Icosahedrons” as their team mascot. Imagine the umpteen different types of logo possibilities with the sarcasm font?)

We may have added a few new variants to our game.

  • Latavious Brini: Decommit brings up too many questions. 
  • Markaviest “Big Cat’ Bryant: Concentrate and ask again. Did you read today’s Intel? 
  • Nico Collins: Signs point to yes.
  • Larrell Murchison: Outlook good.
  • Tedarrell “TD” Slaton:  Don’t count on it. 
  • Aubrey Solomon: Impossible to quantify. Try buying the upgraded $299 Magic 8-Ball which includes Virtual Reality goggles. 
  • Ameer Speed: Ask again later. There’s this Saban guy. 
  • Eric Stokes: Cannot predict now.
  • Leonard Warner III: Outlook not so good. 
  • Devonte Wyatt: Reply hazy try again.
  • Jamyest Williams: As I see it, yes.

Got your own Intel on some of these guys? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

More on Larrell Murchison

Why would 3-star junior college DT Larrell Murchison choose Georgia? Well, that would mean he flips from Ole Miss to the Bulldogs to do so.

I asked him that very question after his official visit this weekend.

“Definitely really because of everything,” Murchison said. “Everything I saw this weekend would be a definite factor. Everything.”

Georgia defensive line coach Tracy Rocker had a clear message for Murchison when he left town at the end of his official visit.

“Rocker said he was hoping I make the best decision for me because they want me,” Murchison said. “Rocker was like ‘I am going to coach you hard’ and ‘So you think you can handle me’ and I was like ‘Yea, I’m ready’ when he said that.”

Murchison said he expects the Bulldogs to come visit him again this week prior to his Ole Miss official visit.

What does Ole Miss have to offer him? Well, the Rebels currently have 14 commits. That rates the SEC West program 13th in the SEC and 50th nationally.

Hugh Freeze’s program has just a pair of 4-star recruits for this cycle. Breon Dixon, a Georgia de-commit, is the second highest-rated recruit the Rebels have for 2017. They’ve also enrolled four other junior college prospects for the current semester.

In comparison, the Bulldogs have more 4-star commits than the Rebels do when just counting the prospects coming from states other than Georgia. UGA actually has them by a 4-2 margin in that category.



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