By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst
October 18, 2021
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Alec Bryant will not be seen in an Illinois game jersey until the 2022 season opener vs. Wyoming.
Illinois athletics officials confirmed to IlliniGuys.com Monday afternoon that the immediately eligible waiver request sent by the U of I athletics compliance office on Bryant’s behalf was denied by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
The defensive line transfer, who announced his arrival from Virginia Tech on Aug. 10, will have four years of eligibility remaining with the Illini when he begins being eligible for games starting with the Aug. 27, 2022 contest in Champaign against Wyoming.
Bryant, a a 6-foot-3 and 240-pound athlete from Pearland, Texas and a former four-star consensus top-400 prospect, began practicing with the Illini at the end of preseason camp in August less than a month after he reportedly entered the transfer portal on July 12.
Bryant, who is the younger brother of Indiana defensive end Alfred Bryant, was rated by 247Sports.com as the 17th-best weakside defensive end prospect and 47th best overall prospect in Texas in the 2020 recruiting class. Bryant, who is expected to be a future contributor at the outside linebacker position of the Illini’s future 3-4 defensive philosophy, turned down scholarship offers from LSU, Oklahoma, Southern California, Oregon and Miami (Fla.) to play at Virginia Tech.
“Very excited about Alec, and the opportunity that he brings us,” Bielema said about Bryant after he arrived on campus in August. “Really the outside linebacker is an area that we’ve been looking at, just from a pure numbers standpoint, it’s kind of a new position for us, something that wasn’t really on the old roster, we kind of blended in some defensive end, some backers, and Alec jumped out to us when he became available.”
Gabe Brooks, the Midlands Region recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com described Bryant in 2020 as a possible “multi-year starter at Power Five level” and added that Bryant was a “productive edge defender who is more long than tall (with a) stout build perhaps more reminiscent of a linebacker. Could be viewed as a 'tweener at four-man end or odd-front standing edge defender, but likely possesses enough length to add requisite bulk.”
Bryant will obviously be eligible to be a full participant for the 15 spring practices and likely will be given serious consideration to be the replacement of Illini sack leader Owen Carney Jr. opposite of redshirt freshman pass rusher Seth Coleman.
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