Posted: 4:18 pm Sunday, December 9th, 2012

American Heritage RB Greg Bryant commits to Notre Dame 

By Jeff Greer

One of the most coveted prospects in the country picked his college on Sunday.

American Heritage running back Greg Bryant, an Army Player of the Year candidate and Army All-American, verbally committed to Notre Dame at the conclusion of his weekend visit to the famous school’s campus. Notre Dame’s Rivals.com outlet was the first to report the five-star back’s decision.

Greg Bryant won a state title in high school, and now he's joining a national championship contender.

The Irish made a late push for Bryant (5-11, 205 pounds, No. 2 on the Big Board) this fall as several other programs chasing the Delray Beach native encountered uncertainty with their coaching situations.

The muscular ball carrier chose Notre Dame over Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Oklahoma, where he’d originally committed in March. Florida State, Florida and Alabama also pursued him. There was a point when Auburn was considered the leader, but the dismissal of Gene Chizik hurt the Tigers. The unclear future of Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley hurt FSU, which fervently chased Bryant toward the end of the season.

Bryant ran for 1,447 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final season at American Heritage, which was nationally ranked in several polls and defeated five other ranked opponents through the course of an 11-1 season. Heritage lost to Fort Lauderdale-University in the regional finals, though the Stallions did capture the 2011 state title in large part because of Bryant’s devastating performance in the state championship game.

The commitment to Notre Dame, which plays in the national championship game in Miami next month, would’ve surprised recruiting fans as recent as a few weeks ago. Bryant maintained on several occasions that he wanted to play in the SEC after he decommitted from Oklahoma just before the high school season, and Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina were the most frequently mentioned schools when Bryant’s name came up.

Fellow Palm Beach County star Kelvin Taylor, a Florida commit and Bryant’s chief rival for the top recruit ranking in the area, even said in late November that he was pushing for Bryant to go to an SEC school.

The younger Bryant — his dad, Greg Sr., is a coach at American Heritage — shied away from the media toward the end of the season, rarely giving out any indication of where his recruiting process stood. Heritage coaches offered tidbits here and there, like telling the media Bryant was visiting Notre Dame this weekend, but never really hinted at Bryant’s favorite schools. But on Friday night, as Bryant made his way north, sources around the program began chirping that the young running back was close to a decision.

Sure enough, at the close-the-deal meeting with Notre Dame’s staff, Bryant gave the Irish his word. Now it’ll be a long and exhausting two months as other programs try to change Bryant’s mind before he signs his name on the dotted line on Feb. 6, which is national signing day.