NFL Draft: Big Kat Bryant follows Gus Malzahn to UCF

The transfer portal has been the source of college teams landing significant talent upgrades in recent years along with possible prospects finding a new home to showcase their skills. The portal’s grace was no different for the University of Central Florida this week. Former Auburn Tiger Markaviest “Big Kat” Bryant announced on his Twitter that he has decided to commit to the American Athletic Conference powerhouse after a brief stint searching for a new team as he looks to boost his 2022 NFL Draft status.

The decision comes after a few hurdles disrupted his original plans. Bryant originally announced he was committing to the Tennessee program, but removed that tweet after former head coach Jeremy Pruitt was fired. All Sooners FN reported that Bryant had some hopes to land with Oklahoma too, but that ultimately did not work out.

Deciding on Central Florida is no doubt influenced by a reunion with his old head coach at Auburn. Just two weeks ago, former Tigers coach Gus Malzahn accepted the vacant UCF job, conveniently a month after Bryant’s close-call with Tennessee. The two originally crossed paths on the recruiting trail in 2016 with Malzahn bringing him in as a former Georgia 4-star recruit rated by 247Sports and ESPN.

“Big Kat” Bryant brings a big game with NFL Draft status pending

From his true freshman season, Bryant was a reserve player seeing limited action but immediately contributed when he began to play as a rotational defender as a “Buck” end the next year. A variable linebacker/defensive end hybrid, the position played a major role in the defense’s versatility, but the growing Bryant eventually moved to defensive end, playing alongside current NFL players Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown. He earned second-team All-SEC this year and has totaled 10 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.

The UCF program is no doubt lucky to add a talent like Bryant’s. His long and stout frame, listed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, has flashed stalwart power to disrupt the run and enough juice to crush a pocket. The Knights were ranked 123rd in the nation in total defense and 92nd in scoring, a far cry from the contending program the nation has seen in year’s past. Adding a talent like Bryant gives them an SEC-seasoned talent up front who can make plays that are not simply counted on the stat sheet.

Most importantly, he will absolutely set the tone for what Malzahn expects from his defense and play a valuable role as someone versatile enough to do what his coach asks at a high level. Bryant has shown that ability his entire career. Bryant will undoubtedly look to join his former teammates in the pros for the 2022 NFL Draft and will hope to flash his talent at its highest level for the coming season as a Knight.