Year 1 done: Big Kat Bryant looks to make bigger contribution for Auburn in sophomore season

Markaviest Bryant’s freshman season started when he was officially listed as Big Kat Bryant on the Auburn roster and ended with the newcomer having proved the nickname was well deserved.

Bryant, from Crisp County High School in Cordele, Ga., finished second on the depth chart at defensive end. At different points in November, his team topped Georgia and Alabama, at the time both No. 1 teams ― and programs that had heavily recruited him. Big Kat also garnered 2017 SEC All-Freshman team honors, as voted by league coaches. The year was everything he could have hoped for.

“Everything went well. It wasn’t as big of a learning curve as he thought it would be,” said former Crisp County High School coach Shelton Felton. “He did realize a lot of kids at that level were much bigger and stronger than the average high school kid. That was an adjustment, but it was what he thought it would be. He thought everything went well. He earned conference honors. He got some playing time, made some plays. He got bigger going into his sophomore year.”

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It didn’t take Bryant long to acclimate to his new team. The only initially difficult thing was sorting out the different techniques Auburn coaches wanted him using on specific plays. Defensive line coach Rodney Garner did the teaching.

“In high school I kind of let him play freely, let him do his thing,” said Felton, who now coaches outside linebackers at Chattanooga. “It was more complicated this past year. Some of the scheme stuff was easy because of some of the names they used.”

Yet even arguably the toughest or most frightening part of the Auburn defense wasn’t too much for Bryant.

“He said playing for Coach G was everything as advertised. He said Coach G was me on steroids,” Felton laughed. “He was tough, but he was fair and he loves them all. He pushed them and made them better. Big Kat really loves Coach Garner.”

Auburn football-Big Cat Bryant
Big Kat Bryant (1) was introduced to coach Rodney Garner’s booming personality early in last fall camp. (Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country)

Conditioning never was really a problem for Garner, nor was putting on weight. According to Felton, Big Kat weighs about 245 pounds. He’s already set his mind on what he wants to accomplish in 2018, especially with teammate Jeff Holland opting for the NFL after his memorable junior season.

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“The goal is to be the No. 1 guy,” Felton said. “The goal is to go in spring and leave no doubts. Get ready mentally, physically, learn the playbook in and out, be in the best shape possible.”

Big Kat Bryant cut his hair before his freshman season with the Auburn Tigers. (Jeff Sentell/DieHards)

Felton already has the 2018 Auburn-Georgia game circled on his calendar. That’s Nov. 10, when he’ll get to watch his former 4-star products Big Kat and Quay Walker play against each other in Athens. For Big Kat, there’s more to the plan, though.

Off the football field, Big Kat just wants to stay on the track he’s already on — and maybe grow his one-time trademark hair back, his former coach said.

“Everything’s going good. He’s at a 3.3 GPA. He’s been doing real good in class,” Felton said. “The biggest thing was the set schedule. Class this time, no class this time. It took some adjusting, but he’s always been a great student. Once he got his time management down he did pretty well.”

In the end, it’s all about breaking out and taking over, Felton said.

“That’s what Big Kat is hunting for.”

The post Year 1 done: Big Kat Bryant looks to make bigger contribution for Auburn in sophomore season appeared first on SEC Country.

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