I'll be rootin' for ya, Birdman

Serderius Bryant committed to the Ole Miss rebels on the Fourth of July.

Serderius Bryant committed to the Ole Miss rebels on the Fourth of July. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel / September 11, 2009)

It's going to sadden me greatly if Serderius Bryant cannot bring up his grades to fulfill his commitment to the Ole Miss Rebels.

It comes with the territory a lot of times, a writer starts to build relationships with his subjects and as objective as he wants to be, we're still human, and human nature takes over when you spend a lot of time covering individuals. So you begin to root for these individuals.

For me, on the recruiting beat, I root for every kid. I want everyone to do well and it's gratifying when things go positively for these players. The spark in their voice over the phone when they've just committed to their college of choice is enough to put anyone in a good mood.

As for Bryant, when he finally came to the conclusion Fourth of July evening after talking with his family members that he would commit to Mississippi, he called me. You could just hear the excitement. He hardly had to say anything. I knew immediately that he felt he was making the right choice.

So that's why, if Serderius doesn't get some guidance help, tutoring and just flat out pushes himself in the classroom, it will break my heart to witness.

Serderius has the kind of personality that is magnetic. He draws everyone in. They call him the Bird and everybody loves the Bird. He's energetic, extremely courteous, deeply devoted to being the best football player he can be, and it's that devotion that he'll need to take into the classroom for his senior year.

Bird has taken an early ACT test and his score was an 18. Now, low test scores don't make you a bad person. Nor do they make you a dumb person.

There could be any number of reasons for Bryant's low numbers in his initial round of testing. A lot of times, just being lazy is the biggest factor. I don't see Bird being lazy, but with school work, who knows? Boredom can certainly lead to being lazy. Perhaps it's boredom.

Only Bird knows, and only Bird can figure it out.

The bottom line is that whatever might have been the case in the past, it can't be the case now. It's do-or-die time. No excuses now, because no one will care. Scores are scores.

"If I bring up my GPA, I will be qualified," Bryant said. "I'll take it (ACT) three more times before I graduate. I'm trying to graduate early and so I'll have to get with the guidance counselor to find out what I need."

He had a 750 on the SAT, but he has decided he will concentrate solely on the ACT.

"I've signed up for the [ NCAA] Clearinghouse and they've got my test scores. They're going to tell me a lot of things."

These scores aren't the bottom of the barrel. In fact, on the NCAA's sliding scale, they are very worthy of a middle-of-the road qualifying number.

He also knows that he will have an abundance of academic help at his fingertips once he lands on the Oxford, Miss., campus, which is one of the main reasons he chose the school. They stressed their academic program and guidance and that was particularly appealing to Bryant.

The NCAA qualifications are based on a sliding scale. So if Bird were to use his 750 SAT score, the matching equivalent GPA for qualification would be a 2.65. Seems easy, especially for a committed person such as Bird. His ACT score of 18 is an average, and the NCAA scale is based on cumulative scores, information which Bird did not have available.

I think he'll make the grade and I have full confidence in him.

As for on the playing field? Serderius Bryant will be an all-American linebacker for Ole Miss in the near future. He has the right package of charisma and talent that will cause people to take notice. Look for his jarring hits on SportsCenter.

Plus, he's a little undersized at 5-10, 215, and everyone loves those who overcome.

Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at chays@orlandosentinel.com.
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