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Thomas Jefferson lineman Nick Bryan heading to Kent St after senior season. @NickBry46357328 @TJHSJaguars

Written by: on Sunday, June 27th, 2021

 

Coach Bill Cherpak and the TJ Jaguars seem to churn out high quality athletes every year. This years crop of top talent at Thomas Jefferson High School is lead by tackle Nick Bryan. At 6-4, 265, the size 17 shoe,  incoming senior has the frame to do some damage on the line. It’s at center where he’s expected to play in college. Nick helped pave the way to a State Title in 2020, and hopes to do the same again this year. But first, he had other business to take care of.

Recruiting is much like a relationship. It takes a lot of communication and attention. You have to figure out if the “other” is a good fit for you, and you also have to take into account whether your family will be ok with your choice. They also say your first relationship is also the one that affects you most later in life.  On Feb 9 Bryan was offered a scholarship by Kent State, his first offer. After a 5 month battle with the likes of UMass, Old Dominion, Ball St, Duquesne, Lehigh and more, Kent St. stood out best. Nick committed to the Flashes, and we caught up with him to see what it was that made the Kent state program stick out.

Much like we said, you have to win over the family as well as the player. “It was a really hard decision to be honest with you. What it ultimately came down to was proximity to home and family as well as just an overall sense of feeling like you belonged somewhere and that the coaches and staff went out of their way to make sure that they knew without a shadow of a doubt that I belong there and that I was the only interior lineman that they will be taking for my graduating class. I also really got along well with several other players I got to hang out with them on two different occasions and it was real comfortable we had a great vibe going.

Nick said it was Coach Jason Makrinos  who recruited him and said “he and I had a great vibe He was from Western Pennsylvania originally and made me feel totally comfortable. Throughout my whole recruiting process I had probably at least 15 to 20 “FaceTimes” with Coach O’Boyle, the offensive line coach and he has that old school, no BS type of coaching style that is so similar to my high school program that I felt completely at ease with.”

What is Kent State getting in a player like Bryan?  “Well first and foremost they’re getting an extremely dedicated, accountable, athletic offensive lineman. I pride myself on being gritty and tough. I have great footing, I keep myself cemented on the ground, and My extremely long arms and large hands allow me to get leverage on my opponents. I know how to win in the trenches and they know that.”

It wasn’t an easy choice, nor was it an easy process. Especially with the covid situation throwing a wrench the size of Rhode Island into the recruiting process.  I think in the beginning it’s a lot of fun and excitement. You have a lot of fun getting the attention getting the offers and really seeing your hard work pay off. I for one am relieved that that portion of it is over.” There’s a reason he’s glad its over, and it has more to do with this coming fall season. “I think you guys know that I play for a really tough nosed program at Thomas Jefferson. Coach Cherpak and coach Oster expect us to give a thousand percent every single day during conditioning and heading into camp. I wanted to commit early so that I could focus on my senior season. First and foremost I’m accountable to the Thomas Jefferson jaguars before anybody else.”

The most important thing for Nick was he had parents that kept him grounded throughout the process. My parents played a huge role in my decision but really went out of their way to make sure that I understood that it was my choice. We had a chart that we ranked each school on after we visited it. We ranked the schools and the football programs on everything from academic support to what are the facilities like. We really tried to go about making this decision the most practical way.As the process goes on you realize that many times an offer is just that..an offer and that that school really isn’t as interested in you as you thought they were. What I’d like a lot of guys to know is it truthfully is a process and I think my mom put it best when she said I’ve basically been on a job interview since December.”

“My mom is the realest person in my life. There were days my freshman year that I was ready to throw in the towel” (Nick has actually only played football for 5 years) “and instead of her feeling sorry for me she would say to me “go ahead, quit playing, It’s not me who’s going to regret it it’s you”.  She has always done everything in her power to help me to succeed. She’s always been 100% honest with me. Both she and my dad have taught me that nothing worth having comes easy.”

Nick is excited to be a part of the Golden Flash program, and he “thinks the most exciting thing about the program is how much of an uphill trajectory the golden flashes are on. They are on fire and the way that they have been recruiting and the work that they have been putting in consistently day in and day out I don’t see any change in that happening anytime soon.” He wants to some day be an elementary school teacher and eventually some day coach high school football.

“Honestly just being a part of something so much bigger than me. Being able to take everything I learned over the last five years and be able to translate it to That next level and be a difference maker. I’m looking forward to gaining a second family. I went out and looked at a ton of schools and Kent State is the one that fell the most like Nick Bryan the football player and Nick Bryan the future teacher and future football coach!”

Want to know a little bit more about Nick? Check this out:

Nick Bryan 

Thomas Jefferson High School 

Class of 2022 

LT/DT 

Ht: 6’4 Wt: 276 

Awards: Big 8 first-team All-Conference left tackle, PA Football News first-team All-State tackle, Mon valley Independent finest 30 left tackle and two-time PIAA 4A State Champion. 


Why do you play football? 
I’ve always loved the game of football for as long as I can remember Sundays consisted of football on the TV. So from a very young age I knew I wanted to play.

What has been your best memory from football so far? 
Without question, it’s winning the State Championship in 2020.

Who is your favorite pro athlete and why?
Lawrence Taylor the original 56 I started watching old clips of him and I just fell in love with how he played with so much heart and passion and how agile he was. He was a dominant force on that field.

Who is your biggest fan and why? 
Anybody that knows me could answer this question it’s most definitely my mom Kristi, she goes crazy! No matter how loud it is no matter how many people are in the stands I can always pick her voice out above everybody else and so can the entire team! she would do anything to help me succeed or to help anybody on our team succeed.

Is there any specific person you look up to and use as a role model?  
That’s a really hard question to answer I wouldn’t say that I have one single role model but several role models definitely my dad and brother my dad is retired Navy served 21 years and my brother’s active duty Navy now.  my great-grandma Joann she calls me all the time and checks on me wants to hear all the news about football. She lives in Alabama so she can’t come to the games but she wants to know about every detail.

What is your desired major in college?  
Education, elementary education to be specific I would love to be a history teacher and eventually go into high school football coaching.

Coming off a year with COVID struggles, what do you think this year will be like?
I think it’s going to be a lot better but I still think it’s going to be different and I think it’s important that we’re all still safe and keeping vigilant as to not disrupt our upcoming season.

Favorite play to run?
26 counter.

What is your personal goal for this season?
I want to finish this season as a three-peat champion, healthy!

Favorite pre-game meal?
Spaghetti and meatballs.

Sports movie?
Greater.

Sport you’d love to play but can’t?
Ice Hockey.

Most embarrassing sports moment?
It was JV season, 9-10th grade game I caught a screen pass meant for a running back and took off full speed down the field! I think that might be the only time that coach Oster did not get mad because I got a penalty.

What are you looking forward to most this year?
Just playing football with the guys I’ve been playing with for the last five years and making this final year matter and creating awesome memories.

Favorite activities?
I love to fish, play video games, meet up at the park and play basketball with my friends.

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