Kentucky hall of fame offensive lineman Warren Bryant has died at the age of 65. He was a part of the UK class of 1976 and helped lead the Wildcats to a share of the 1976 SEC Championship.
Originally from Miami, Florida, Bryant chose to play for Kentucky coaching legend Fran Curci who had recently taken over the Wildcats program after John Ray was fired. Bryant played a huge role for the Wildcats helping elevate the team under Curci, who had gone 13-19-1 in three seasons prior, to 8-4 (which was later changed to 9-3 due to Mississippi State fielding an ineligible player) and to being Co-SEC champions with Georgia.
That season also saw the ‘Cats conquer Tennessee for the first time in over a decade with the offensive line playing a major role in the 7-0 victory. The Wildcats would go on to shutout North Carolina 21-0 in Atlanta for the Peach Bowl, officially sparking the name ‘Catlanta.’
During his college career, Bryant amassed several prestigious awards including First Team All American honors by the American Football Coaches Association and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He was a three year All-SEC selection by both the Associated Press and United Press International, was named to the Lakeland Ledger 25-Year All-SEC team for the years 1961-1985, and being the only Kentucky player to ever win the Jacobs Award for the most outstanding blocker in the SEC.
On top of those awards, in 1990, he was chosen by the Lexington-Herald Leader and the Louisville-Courier Journal for the All-Time Kentucky Teams.
Following his college career, Bryant would go on to be the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft for the Atlanta Falcons. He earned a spot on the NFL All-Rookie team in his first year with the team. He started 93 of his 164 career games and in familiar fashion—helped lead the Falcons to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Following his retirement, Bryant was inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. He was also separately named to the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame 11 years later. His jersey is retired by the University as well.
Many members of the 1976 team were present for Kentucky’s 42-21 win over LSU this past weekend, though Bryant had to miss for health concerns. Funeral arrangements for Bryant are pending.