By LARRY VAUGHT
Lorenzo Bryant knows it wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help, but he wants University of Kentucky football fans to know the UK coaching staff did nothing wrong in the recruitment of his son, Derrick, even though he decided this week to play at UCLA.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It certainly was between those two schools,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Lorenzo Bryant Tuesday. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was so close. His parents weighed in on him going 2,000 miles away to school, but it was his decision. UCLA had everything he wanted to do academically and the atmosphere he wanted. There was just something there he really liked.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The coaches at both schools were equal. They were all great coaches. It was a very, very tough decision. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t jump right on UCLA.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Still, the talented Columbus, Ohio, defensive end did pick the Bruins, not UK. Kentucky had made him a primary target early in the recruitment process and he had made two unofficial visits to UK before taking an official visit to UCLA last weekend.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Kentucky did absolutely nothing wrong. Maybe if we could have got to an official visit that would have gave us football along with some other thingsÃ‚Â it might have made a difference with Derrick. He got to go to a UCLA game, experience fans, talk to players outside of the coaches. He got to really get a feel for the entire atmosphere of UCLA versus at Kentucky where we came on a Sunday, which was our request. We wanted to give Kentucky the same respect,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lorenzo Bryant said.
Bryant said his son had a hard time making his final choice because he liked Kentucky so much.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Derrick said to me he wished he could be two people. He liked two schools equally, but could only attend one,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lorenzo Bryant said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably no consolation since Derrick chose UCLA over Kentucky, but he says anybody that would choose to go to Kentucky would be going to a great football program and great institution.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Joker Phillips is an extraordinary, charismatic individual. I would like to thank Joker Phillips for what he did for us. I read a few things (on the Internet) where some people thought the coaching staff did not do something right. Let them know the UK coaches could not have done anything better. They did it all right. DerrickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gut reaction was just to go to UCLA.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In fact, Lorenzo Bryant said UK recruiting coordinator Chuck Smith quickly understood that Derrick Bryant wanted his father involved in his recruitment. Michigan, the school Derrick Bryant originally was going to commit to, never reached out to his parents and that eliminated the Wolverines.
Only Kentucky and UCLA involved the parents the way Derrick Bryant wanted.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Chuck Smith is a very good coach and was very responsive to what we wanted. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think of anything I would have wanted him to do different. The reaching out to us started with him and then Joker came in,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lorenzo Bryant said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Other schools never reached out to us (the parents) and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even consider a lot of them. Derrick said his father was going to handle his recruiting for a reason and Kentucky and UCLA did as much as they could within the rules to honor that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Lorenzo Bryant says he canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see a scenario where his son would de-commit from UCLA. However, if something did happen, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no doubt where he would go to school.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If anything ever happened, nobody would be on our mind but Kentucky,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lorenzo Bryant said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We feel a little remorseful about having to tell Kentucky no. We had a lot invested in them emotionally, too. You never know what can happen in recruiting down the line. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not February yet, but if anything happens, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no other school we would entertain but Kentucky and if anyone asks us if Kentucky would be a great place to go we would definitely say yes