Eric-Paul Johnson (The Press-Enterprise) — Gary Bryant Jr. finished second behind Javon McKinley (2016 4-star recruit who chose Notre Dame and was arrested by ND campus police in Feb 2019 and charged with three misdemeanors, including two Class A counts of battery.) on Centennial’s all-time list for receiving yards (2,907) and receptions (147). Centennial football coach Matt Logan could have rattled off any number of adjectives to describe Bryant’s play on the field, but one word quickly popped into Logan’s head.
“Smooth,” Logan said about his slot receiver. “Everything Gary does looks very effortless, whether it is running routes, catching the ball or maneuvering around after a catch. All of it is so smooth.”
Bryant was a running back when he first starting playing football but quickly switched to receiver.
Bryant’s first highlight reel appeared on YouTube about six years ago while playing youth football for the Inland Empire Ducks in Moreno Valley. He also was a youth track standout, running first for the Moreno Valley Rockets and later for Next Level Athletics. Bryant’s speed (4.46 40) and precise route -running helped him become one of the Inland area’s most exciting playmakers.
“I just love that feeling of having the ball in my hands and making plays,” said Bryant, a four-star recruit with more than two dozen college offers before committing publicly to USC. “I think my greatest strength is making plays with my legs. I love being in open space and turning a quick 5-yard route into a long touchdown.”
Bryant’s numbers would be more impressive if Centennial did not have so many blowout wins over the past three seasons. However, he has delivered a number of eye-opening performances during his time with the Huskies. In his first start as a sophomore, Bryant had five catches for 163 yards and a touchdown against Pittsburg. He had an eight-catch, 108-yard effort versus St. John Bosco in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal game later that season. Bryant’s junior year began with him hauling in nine catches for 265 yards and three touchdowns against Chandler (Arizona).
Bryant was one of the few bright spots in Centennial’s 2019 season opener against Mater Dei, as he finished with seven catches for 166 yards. Three weeks later, Bryant had nine catches for 234 yards and set a program record with five touchdown catches in Centennial’s win over Liberty (Nevada).
“In our toughest and most competitive games, he usually is our top weapon out there,” Logan said. “I feel sorry for him and some of our other guys because they don’t always get as many touches as we’d like them to have because of the score. But when we need it most, Gary always seems to step up.”
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