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Auburn transfer “Big Kat” Bryant commits to Tennessee

The productive pass rusher from Auburn reunites with his defensive coordinator and a mentor.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Outback Bowl - Minnesota v Auburn Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The highly coveted defensive end transfer Markaviest “Big Kat” Bryant announced his commitment to the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday night.

Bryant came to prominence in 2019, after contributing intermittently throughout the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The Auburn Tigers and their elite defensive front was aided by Bryant, who started at the Buck position and recorded 9 QB hurries and 2 sacks. Most expected him to shoulder a heavier load after Auburn lost Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson to the NFL draft.

Improvement came—although it wasn’t the leap that most were expecting. Bryant still continued to make an impact as a pass rusher, but it became obvious that Auburn’s talent helped take the attention off him. He was still regarded as one of the more reliable defenders in the conference.

We all witnessed the end of Gus Malzahn’s tenure, prompting many players to head off in search of greener pastures. Bryant was one of those. Just a week after entering his name into the transfer portal, he is heading to Knoxville.

Tennessee’s outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton is the key here. Many would assume the hiring of former Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was the main draw, but Felton was actually Bryant’s head coach in high school. Bryant has spoken highly of Felton ever since, and he views him as one of the keys to his success.

Bryant will add to a quickly reloaded defensive front that has a quality mix of talent. While some rumored transfers may affect that, Tennessee has still done a good job at recruiting both defensive linemen and outside linebackers.

The loss of Darrell Taylor also meant that the Volunteers needed more proven qualities at pass rusher. Bryant brings just that, having totaled 55 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions in his four years at Auburn.

Now, we wait and see how the coaching drama plays out. Hopefully some of these players know what they’re getting into.