POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — One year of experience proved to be enough.
Point Pleasant senior Jacob Bryant, who came out for the Big Blacks football team for the first time as a senior, signed his National Letter of Intent on Sunday, committing to join the West Virginia State University football team next fall.
“Whenever I was a little kid, I really wanted to play football, but soccer season was at the same time and I didn’t have the chance to do both,” said Bryant. “I tried football this last year and really liked it, now I’m really excited, I think it’s going to be a whole new atmosphere. It’s a really nice college, my mom went there when she was younger, and she wanted me to go. They have really experience coaches, they’re good people.”
In his only season of football, Bryant helped the Big Blacks to an 9-3 record and a first round playoff win. In the regular season, Bryant was 53-of-61 on point-after-touchdown kicks, and he went on to make all-11 extra point tries in the postseason. Bryant also hit a pair of field goals, one in the regular season and one in the second round of the playoffs.
PPHS 11-year head coach David Darst noted the sky is the limit once Bryant gets to the next level.
“He came in this year as a first-year kicker and really did a great job for us,” said Darst. “In just that one year, he ended up in the top-5 as far as extra points and field goals in Point Pleasant history. On top of that, he played soccer during football season. He got better all-year long, we started to teach him how to do different kicks on kickoffs, and he became a really nice kicker for us.
“I think once he got in here with us, he really fell in love with football. He came to me and said ‘Coach, I’d really like to go on’. He went up and kicked at West Virginia State, and they loved him. I think he’s one of those kids who will get better and better. Actually getting to kick everyday and not worry about soccer, I think he’ll have a pretty good future.”
Bryant credits Coach Darst, as well as Big Blacks assistant coach Daniel Tench and athletic trainer Gabe Roush as major factors in helping him to reach the next level of football.
“It was in the summertime last year, Coach Darst told me he needed a kicker,” Bryant said. “I played soccer, so he had me go out and try with a football. Coach Tench also helped me a good bit, showing me where to kick. Our medical trainer here, Gabe Roush, helped me a lot throwing balls back.”
Bryant noted that one of his fondest memories of his first football season as the Big Blacks’ back-and-forth 56-54 loss to Mingo Central in the season opener.
“The first game, I thought I was going to have to kick a field goal to try and win it, ” Bryant said. “Alec Smith scored for me, and I didn’t have to kick it.”
Bryant will be joining a Yellow Jackets team that competes in the Mountain East Conference and NCAA Division II. West Virginia State is located in Institute, W.Va. less than an hour drive from OVB Track and Field in Point Pleasant.
While focused on placekicking, Bryant may also try punting at West Virginia State.
“I’ve been out to West Virginia State twice to practice with them,” said Bryant. “I go out on our field, Coach allows us to go out there and kick to get ready.”
Bryant — who holds a 3.5 grade-point-average at PPHS — plans to major in either Biology or Business at WVSU.
As a four-year member of the PPHS soccer team, Bryant has helped the Red, Black and White to a 31-49-2 record. In his sophomore season of soccer, he was an academic letterman.
As a wrestler for Point Pleasant, Bryant was 18-6 as a junior and 28-21 as a senior, ending both seasons at the state tournament. Bryant wrestled at 138 pounds as a junior and moved up to the 170-pound weight class as a senior.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.