Kelsey Griffin and Larenz Bryant came to South Carolina as decorated prospects, the sort fans adorn with dreams of future stardom.
Now, both have one last chance to deliver.
In the midst of South Carolina’s transition to a new era, those two defenders find themselves in a peculiar spot. Their senior years, the ones most players hope represent a high point, come just after the reset button was hit.
But for the former blue chips, it means a new start.
“It’s a new everything,” Bryant said. “They’ve got new players to them and they’re new coaches to us. We’ve all got to just stay on the course, stay on the road and adapt.”
That atmosphere suits Griffin just fine. Neither he nor Bryant truly broke through with the last staff, and now have one more go at it.
“I definitely think it gives me a new opportunity,” Griffin said. “Like I said, change is good and we always accept change. I like the change that’s going on. I just keep pushing myself.”
Griffin has been at the edge of the defensive line rotation each of his three years on campus, but never took a headlining role for long.
He played in 15 games his first two seasons, making a dozen tackles, then made 14 tackles playing nearly every game in 2015. He had 2 1/2 sacks and 3 1/2 tackles for loss as a junior, but they were all concentrated in two games.
Bryant played in almost every game the past three years, but mostly on special teams. He had a few stints on defense and has made 11 career tackles.
“I don’t dwell on the past,” Griffin said. “It’s the present now, and I’m working on what I’ve got to do to play and help my team.”
This spring, Bryant has worked at both outside linebacker spots, including being part of the dime package. Griffin has taken a fair number of snaps with the first-team defensive line in the public periods of practice.
Bryan admitted it’s a bit surreal to look back and realize he’s quickly closing in his final season in garnet and black.
“It’s different just because it came so fast,” Bryant said. “From my freshman year to my senior year now, it came so fast. Now that I and the seniors in my class are now in the role, we’ve got to take the leadership now.
“It came fast, but it’s been a long road.”
He and Griffin both said they embraced the new regime. Bryant said the coaches implemented their changes, and the only thing the team can do is adapt. Griffin is down 10 pounds to 290 and echoing pet phrases and mantra from Muschamp.
Neither top recruit has lived up to the lofty billing, but it doesn’t mean either can’t make good on their last farewell ride.
“I just thank God for my opportunity to play,” Bryant said. “In my last year, I’m going hard as I can, fast as I can, physical as I can. And I’m just trying to let it all out.
“Hopefully, I get my opportunity.”