CHARLOTTE -- Count the latest U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey recipient as surprised.
"I'm still a little shocked that I've been invited to play in this game," Larenz Bryant told Rivals.com after the presentation at Charlotte Vance High. "It is a blessing to have this opportunity. I'm looking forward to representing my school in the game."
The South Carolina, rated by Rivals.com as a four-star prospect and the No. 2 inside linebacker prospect, is a two-way standout for his high school team.
Vance head coach Keith Wilkes has nothing but good things to say about his prized pupil.
"He is a great person," Wilkes said. "He is our leader on this team. A lot of the younger guys look up to him. How he goes is how we go a lot of the times. He is one of the best players I've been able to coach."
Bryant is having a super season for Vance, which will match up Friday with Mallard Creek in the North Carolina state playoffs.
He has rushed for 1,776 yards and 21 touchdowns from his running back position and has 98 tackles and 11 sacks at linebacker on defense. In his spare time, Bryant has been keeping up with S.C.'s on-field performance.
"I think we have played well," Bryant said. "The defense has been really good. They have been playing aggressive and forcing turnovers. We still have some things left to accomplish this season."
While he has only seen one game in person, the Tar Heel State product was blown away by what he saw.
"I was up there for the Georgia game," Bryant said. "I think that is the only game I've been able to go to so far. It was crazy that game. The fans were crazy the whole game. I loved just being there. I can't wait to play in front of something like that."
The Gamecocks coaching staff has already started building a strong relationship with Bryant, who will be counted on to play an important role early in his career.
"I talk with Coach (Shawn) Elliott, Coach (Kirk) Botkin, and Coach (Lorenzo) Ward," Bryant said. "I've been talking with Coach Botkin a lot. I had a birthday not long ago and I heard from all of them. They just tell me to stay healthy and they are ready for me to get up there. They are talking to me about playing the will linebacker position."
After playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 5, Bryant will focus on finishing up his academics for his senior season. He will enroll at S.C. next summer, and despite one other program's overtures, he is sure that Columbia is the place for him.
"I'm 100-percent committed," Bryant said. "Clemson is still recruiting me but that is about it. I'm taking my official visit to South Carolina in January and that will be my only visit."
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