Former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant announced his intention to play his last season in Missouri a few minutes ago. We talked to Cris Ard publisher of TigerIllustrated who has covered Clemson for Rivals.com for years about Bryant. See what Ard had to say in this special Q & A.
What are Bryant’s strengths and weaknesses as a quarterback?
Cris Ard : Kelly is a game manager at the most important position in the field. He does not make many mistakes. And I think his athletic ability is undervalued. He is only limited as a passer. They could never fully develop their downfield matching game with Bryant as their first quarterback. He threw only 1
3 passes last year as a full time starter. Although he worked as a backup for four matches this season, Trevor Lawrence had already thrown for more touchdowns before finishing October than Bryant had thrown all his career.
Obviously, Missouri Drew Lock fails, which is a likely first round of NFL Draft pick with one of the best arms in the country. How different do you think a crime centered around Bryant would have to be from a centered around Lock?
Ard : A breach of Bryant at the helm would have to be centered around a shorter and intermediate game. I strongly believe in putting the players in the best position to perform and win. That is where he can most effectively. Bryant will not give Missouri an explosive downhill game. What he will do is show excellent pocket attendance, better improvisational ability than average, good ability to distort, the ability to make defenders misses thanks in space and he usually does not lose a game for you. He is a very confident player, he has been in the arena and has delivered in some big ball games. They would not really hit Texas A & M on the way this year without him.
What about Bryant outside the field? Is he a child that his teammates and coaches talked a lot about?
Ard : During his four years at Clemson we never saw any underflows with Bryant, no changing room problems, no problems outside the field. Bryant has a good personality, a good spirit about him. He is a very nice person. He was highly respected by his teammates, they saw him as leader and I think people had an appreciation because he patiently waited for his turn. He paid his fees. Everything he ever got on the field, he earned it. Now at the end, I think that several players questioned their sudden departure, understandably.
Of course, it’s a unique situation where he lost the job and chose to transfer midseason. Was that decision more about what Bryant did not do or just about Trevor Lawrence was a guy who was too good to stay out of the field?
Ard : Trevor Lawrence was perfect and Trevor Lawrence was just better and the feeling from this corner is that Bryant would not be better. Bryant’s position, his argument, was that he had not done anything to lose the job. And that’s correct. There is a way to look at it. But you do not have to do anything to lose a job. Sometimes the other guy is just better. Clemson probably has the nation’s most recruited talent at wide recipients. And those players are very integrated into what they try to do offensively. They would not be fully exploited with Bryant as the starting quarterback. You do not sign 5-star recipients so they can block for four years. Trevor Lawrence can make every throw, he has an incredible arm, he is 6, his encryption ability is undervalued and he plays. This is a potential three-year-old guy, a potential top five pick in the draft. I do not think Bryant is an NFL QB.
What is the feel of Clemson about Bryant after he chose to leave? Are people in the program bitter or angry or were they quite understanding of his situation?
Ard : People are responsible for themselves and their conscience and Bryant did not like demotating multiple games in their second year as an appetizer. You are waiting for your turn behind Deshaun Watson You are on campus for almost four years and here comes an 18 year old boy who takes off and carries down the tracks and basically goes with you before the end of August camp. It would be difficult for anyone to handle. It’s not exclusive to Bryant. So I think people understood their decision to leave.
But Clemson fans and it does not matter to appreciate the way in which Bryant went out of the training facility and was a no-show to train two straight days. In addition, they did not appreciate their comments in a local paper where he called the move a blow in the face and, of course, a subsequent interview with ESPN’s Maria Taylor who was very critical of the decision to break Bryant weeks earlier. Missouri is quite run from Clemson, so it is possible Bryant could end up from a local “quarterback coach” many Clemson people have questions about. The coach helped ease the interview with Bryant and the local paper, so Bryant could air their complaints publicly. The coach is related to the reporter.