Kelly Bryant, who is enrolling in January at Clemson, worked hard to shed the “athlete” label.
One of five South Carolina Mr. Football finalists – and the nation’s No. 11 dual-threat quarterback – the 6-foot-4 Wren product has established his QB credentials.
Moving to the Golden Hurricanes’ spread scheme as a junior, Bryant accounted for almost 50 touchdowns, drawing offers during the offseason from schools such as Virginia Tech, Florida and Ole Miss.
“Going into my junior year, that’s when the label from athlete to quarterback started to fade away,” Bryant said on SportsTalk radio before accepting a 3A Upper State back of the year award. “Started training with my quarterback coach Ramon Robinson and started getting into the Wren offense.”
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“My first instinct is to stay in the pocket and go through my progressions. I can also run and scramble and keep the defense honest with my feet.”
It wasn’t until an eventful April for the Tigers that Bryant turned Clemson’s longstanding offer into a commitment, and from there, he took off.
Bryant passed for more than 3,500 yards, with 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, adding more than 700 rushing yards and 14 more scores to a top seed in Upper State 3A.
He enters a situation in January in which he and another freshman, Florida Mr. Football finalist Tucker Israel (Lake Nona), are the only recruited scholarship quarterbacks competing in spring ball (rising junior Nick Schuessler is listed as a former walkon). Deshaun Watson, after surgery on a torn ACL, is set to return as starter for 2015.
“That is a warrior right there, playing through all he played through I have the utmost respect for him,” Bryant said. “If I go do my thing in the spring and let everything play out, try to do my best and have the best spring and summer I can – like I said, everything will fall in place. I can control just what I can control.
“If it’s a redshirt, I’ll take the redshirt. Having a redshirt gives you more time to get familiar and comfortable with the offense, but if it’s not the redshirt, I wouldn’t mind it at all.”
He is as intrigued as anybody in the new-look Tiger offense, led by co-coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott.
“I haven’t really talked to them (yet) with coach Morris leaving,” he said. “I kinda expected that, and I got a feel for the whole coaching staff with the possibility of that situation of him leaving. I’m comfortable with my decision and can’t wait to get up there.
“I’m anxious to see how the co-coordinator deal works out with coach Scott and coach Elliott.”