CHICAGO | It's hard to get more than two words out of Derrick Bryant.
Off the field, the senior linebacker doesn't say much. He comes across as the strong, silent type.
On the field, he doesn't say much either, other than what is necessary to get the job done.
"Derrick plays loud," teammate and offensive lineman Nick Roach said. "He can be vocal when needed, but he mostly does his talking with his tackling."
The only sound you hear might be of his hitting an opposing ballcarrier. There is no dancing, jumping or taunting. It is just business. The only sound is his pads popping the ball carrier or the ball coming loose.
Bryant led the Caravan in tackles with 100, including 10 tackles for losses. He also recovered three fumbles and broke up two passes. He led a defense which gave up 11.4 points per game and helped Mount Carmel to a 34-20 win over Simeon in the Prep Bowl.
For his outstanding season, Bryant is The Times Defensive Player of the Year.
Bryant is 5-10 and 190 pounds. As a freshman, he was a member of the "B" team. He hit the weights and used his drive to become a starter.
"I know about the Mount Carmel tradition because my cousin Arthur Ray. He played here and then Michigan State," Bryant said. "I was scrawny as a freshman, but I used that as motivation to get better. I know I am just as good as those 6-3, 200-pound guys.
"It is like they say, it is the fight in the dog."
Bryant has that in him said Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti. He also said Bryant is an example of what not quitting can do for a young man.
"He was a youngster who got to grow and develop and wanted to get better," Lenti said. "He ended up an alternate captain and he is a leader. He is an example of what a good work ethic and being a coachable kid can do for you. As a player, he knew how to be at the right place at the right time."
The South Holland resident also knew being a linebacker at Mount Carmel, he had some shoes to fill, especially wearing No. 44.
"Steven Filer, he wore No. 44, so I wanted to do well and I was proud to wear his number," Bryant said. "He's playing at Notre Dame, and look at all the great linebackers who played here like Jerry Schumacher, Filer, Jeremy Nau. You are expected to play at that level."
Mount Carmel defensive coordinator David Lenti said Bryant made up for his lack of size with his determination.
"He is not your typical Mount Carmel linebacker as far as size goes," Lenti said. "The thing Derrick has is he is willing to learn and play hard. He has a nose for being where the football is."
David Lenti also said Bryant did speak when he needed to make a point.
"He is quiet, but when he had to tell someone something or the team, he was not afraid to speak up," David Lenti said. "They knew when he did say something, it was important and they better listen."
He has also used his defensive skills to help the offense, running back Draco Smith said.
"He has told me on a certain play, where a linebacker might be or where he is going," Smith said. "You kind of have an idea of what to do, how to cut.
"Derrick is a quiet guy, but he is not afraid to talk or tell you something."
Bryant wants to play college ball and said he thinks he can play Division I ball, though at a mid-major.
He also used his leadership skills of the field as he was elected vice president of the student council. It is a great learning experience for the senior.
"You get to be involved in government and really learn first-hand how the different levels (branches) work," Bryant said. "It goes back to being a leader because people depend on you to come up with ideas and to follow through."
One of the programs he and the council has started is a Caravan Cup for intramurals.
"Study halls compete in different sports and activities," Bryant said. "It gets more students involved in activities, and at the end of the year, the winning team gets the Caravan Cup, which looks like the Prep Bowl Cup."
Bryant said that one of competitions is based on hand-to-hand combat.
"Rock, paper, scissors," he said. "A lot of fun."