Brendan Gant: A Key Part of the Kathleen Defense

Kathleen has a big-time prospect at safety. Kathleen has a solid-minded player at safety.

Brendan Gant is a baller. That’s why he won the Ignite Showcase safety MVP award. The sophomore played a big role for Kathleen in his second year as a starter for the Red Devils.

The Red Devils played .500 ball throughout the majority of the year, before a surprise win against rival Lakeland put them in the thick of a playoff spot with the ‘Naughts and Winter Haven. A one quarter final game with Winter Haven put Kathleen on the outside, looking in for the first time since 2014 – a rare occurrence under Head Coach Irving Strickland.

Kathleen S Brendan Gant took home the 2017 Ignite Showcase S MVP award.

Kathleen S Brendan Gant took home the 2017 Ignite Showcase S MVP award.

What made it even more strange – the Red Devils gave up only 10.8 PPG in 2017, 10.2 in district games – the best marks in Class 7A-District 7. The only issue, the offense scored the least number of points in 7A-7.

The defensive play of Kathleen flowed through Gant in places, who was solid when he wasn’t battling with injury. “Lakeland was my first game back from being injured, and I was really nervous because of that. I kept egging on Coach Strickland, I got cleared through the doctors, got my number called, and helped my team do what we had to do to win,” Gant said.

Gant features a really good block shedding ability combined with the ability to cut routes very well leads to a powerful, solid option in the Kathleen secondary. Gant just netted his ninth verbal offer, this time from Tennessee, which adds to his collection of Power Five offers, including Florida and Florida State.

He’s only a rising junior. There’s still a ton of time for Gant to develop and become even better of a player and a prospect.

“It’s so big, as an athlete to have the offers I do,” Gant said. “This is what everyone dreams about and works for. It means a lot for me to have these offers so early.”

Really, though, what sets him apart? What makes him a top prospect?

“I’m really determined. Even though I’m one of the younger guys on the team, I’m going to do everything I can do play well. I felt really pressured to play a big role for this team, but I knew I would be able to get the job done.”

That determination is going to be key when Kathleen loses two key defensive pieces in Ventrell Miller and Tobias Larry this spring to graduation. The two were also Power Five recruits – Miller, a Florida commit, Larry, still uncommitted, but has collected verbal offers from Louisville, Illinois, and Kentucky. Miller finished with 94 tackles (50 solo) while Larry’s versatility will be missed for the Red Devils.

“We’re really going to miss their leadership. They played a big role, everybody looks up to them, they really kept us hyped and together throughout the entire season,” Gant said.

The inexperience of the rest of the defense showed in the Red Devils’ final quarter of the season against Winter Haven in their three-way tiebreaker. “We were kind of shoot up a little bit, we had a freshman playing at the other safety spot, and it was obviously his first playoff experience. It was more communication with the defense than anything else in that game.”

With those two gone, it’s time for Gant to fill their voids and become a leader in his junior year. That comes after a winter basketball season. The Red Devils are currently 13-12, poised for a possible playoff run, where Gant plays a good role. Even though he’s good in basketball, football is his bread-and-butter.

“Basketball is more of a fun game for me, more of an activity during the winter. Football is more of a job that I have to get done.”

His play will have to set the tone for another strong season from the Kathleen defense, a unit that is the hallmark of the team. “Everyone is going to have to come back in with the same mentality as this year, playing good, making the playoffs, and achieving the ultimate goal of winning state,” Gant said.

If his performance at Ignite was any indication, he’ll be back, even better, for Kathleen next season.

Gant is solid as a player whether it be in basketball or football. He brings an intensity to whatever he does – something that his teammates will need to feed on in 2017.

In a way, his role becomes even bigger than before, but not just as a safety, but as a captain and a leader on and off the field for Kathleen.

We have a feeling he’ll be up to the challenge.

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About the author: Will Turner

 

Big County Preps Student Contributor Program

Twitter: @TBTurner813

 

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