Hard work pays off for Greg Bryant

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Greg Bryant had never worked so hard.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound junior running back from Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage, fresh off rushing for 243 yards and three touchdowns, was almost too tired to talk about his contributions in a 30-3 victory over Gainesville (Fla.) Madison County in the Class 3A state championship game.

"I'm feeling pretty winded right now," Bryant said. "The coaches told me they would need me, but I wasn't expecting 39 carries."

The number of carries was a career high for Bryant. He normally gets 12 to 15 carries a game, but his workload has increased in the playoffs and he has been there to answer the call.

In the state quarterfinals against Davie (Fla.) University School, Bryant had an impressive two-way performance. He rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns, and grabbed two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.

In the state semifinals against Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep, Bryant rushed for more than 150 of his 203 yards in the second half. With quarterback Marcus Davis hampered by an injury, Bryant did most of his damage out of the single wing.

"He's been the focus of our offense the last few weeks," said wide receiver Cameron Posey, a Purdue commit. "Everyone knows how good he is, and I'm just glad he's on my side."

Bryant's 243 yards didn't come easy. His longest run of the day was a 31-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. Most of his runs were between the tackles as he and the American Heritage offensive line physically wore down a Madison County program known for its toughness.

"We knew how physical Madison is, and they have had great players come through that program," Bryant said. "They have great players now. So we had to fight with them and survive."

Not surprisingly, Bryant's efforts have made him one of Florida's most sought-after recruits in the Class of 2013. He already holds offers from Georgia, Florida, FSU, Marshall, Duke, Minnesota, Oklahoma, West Virginia and several more.

With new offers coming each week, Bryant says it's easy to be overwhelmed.

"I'm not used to all the attention yet," Bryant said. "It is complicated with all of these schools and stuff.

"I know I want to take some visits [this summer]; I'm just not sure of where I want to go yet."

It appeared Bryant was focusing his attention on Florida and Georgia, but when other schools such as LSU and West Virginia came aboard, Bryant had to take a step back.

"Every time I went to a place like Georgia or Florida, I loved it and wanted to commit on the spot," Bryant said. "So my dad told me to take a step back and slow down.

"So I want to see as many schools as I can and make the right decision instead of just getting caught up in the moment."

But Bryant was more than willing to get caught up in the moment Saturday as he placed a gold medallion that said "Champion" around his neck.

"Even though I'm pretty exhausted, it was all worth it," Bryant said.

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.