Thomas County Central defensive end Austin Bryant is already being courted a multitude of high-profile football programs across the country.
The rising senior will also get the chance to up his exposure when he treks to Oregon this summer for The Opening – Nike’s premier football camp that herds 162 of the nation’s top prospects.
Bryant received the invitation last week in lieu of a standout performance at the Nike Football Training Camp in Atlanta on March 22, which featured a formidable slate of southeastern talent.
This summer’s event, which runs from July 7-10 at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., will commence three competitions: the SPARQ national championship to seek the nation’s top athlete, the 7-on-7 national championship intended for skill positions, and the lineman challenge, where Bryant’s pedigree will be on display.
Bryant, who is currently listed a four-star prospect by Scout, is the latest name in Central’s rich history to garner national attention for football ability.
He will also be the first Jacket ever to participate at The Opening.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity that God has blessed with to not only represent myself, but also represent Thomasville and Thomas County Central,” Bryant told the Times-Enterprise on Wednesday.
Bryant added that the camp will not only further benefit his already wide exposure, but also broaden his X’s and O’s knowledge under the guidance of Nike’s esteemed coaches.
The trainers that will be on hand include Detroit Lions defensive end Ndamukong Suh, San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice and Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman among others.
“Just to learn from guys that have excelled in this game, it’s a blessing,” Bryant said.
Central coach Bill Shaver said that Bryant’s unique physique and athletic versatility is what has caught the eye of many.
“He has that body type that everyone is looking for – long arms, athletic fit,” Shaver said. “He’s the kind of player that is going to get quick attention because everyone wants to recruit a guy like that.”
Bryant started his Central career at quarterback as a freshman then followed with a one-year stint at outside linebacker before finally settling at defensive end last fall.
Shaver added that Bryant could even play some wheel linebacker and tight end this fall as personnel and attrition dictates.
“He’s really been all over the place for us,” the coach said. “And he’s done real well at every one of those spots.”
Central’s defensive lineman has yet to narrow his prospective list, and still has a wide array of options.
Teams Bryant has shown interest to include Clemson, Florida State, Florida, South Carolina, UCLA, Penn State, Ole Miss, Stanford, Notre Dame, Miami, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Texas A&M.
The latter six were at Central’s spring practice to watch Bryant first-hand on Wednesday.
“It was like a who’s who of college coaches out there,” Shaver said. “Just kind of a big gathering following Austin around all afternoon.”
Among those in attendance was new Georgia defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who, Shaver said, assumed Thomasville native Mike Bobo’s duty to cater to the specific position.
Shaver added that Bobo told him he would be at Central to see Bryant some time next week.