Though he understands he has 11 days before Clemson opens the season against Kent State on Sept 2, Kelly Bryant is thrilled he has finally been named as the Tigers’ starting quarterback.
“All the work I have been putting in since I have been here, I feel like it is paying off,” he said following Tuesday’s practice at Jervey Meadows. “There is still a long ways to go leading up to the game. The game of football is about performance so I have to perform every day on the practice field and in games to keep the job.
“So it is an honor, but work still needs to be done.”
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney officially named Bryant as the starting quarterback to the media on Monday, but Bryant actually learned about it following last Saturday’s scrimmage in Death Valley. Quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter joined Swinney in telling Bryant the news.
“It was an honor for him to finally say it, but like I said, there is still work to be done,” Bryant said. “I’m happy to be in the position that I am right now and I’m just going to take advantage of this opportunity I have.”
Bryant, who is from Calhoun Falls, becomes the first South Carolina native to be named the starting quarterback at Clemson since Woodrow Dantzler, who quarterbacked the Tigers from 1999-’01. Coincidently, Dantzler is one of Bryant’s mentors and Streeter was a teammate of Dantzler’s in 1999.
Dantzler is from Orangeburg, S.C.
“I have definitely heard from Woody,” Bryant said. “He has been in my ear all throughout the spring, summer and camp.”
Bryant said he is going to talk with his predecessor, Deshaun Watson, later and catch back up. He also spoke with former quarterback Tajh Boyd at practice on Tuesday. Boyd and Watson own just about every quarterback record at Clemson and a few in the ACC as well.
“He told me to be ‘you.’ The same thing I have been saying,” Bryant said. “Just be you. Don’t try to be like him, Deshaun or anybody else. Just be Kelly Bryant and play your own game.
Swinney said Kelly made huge strides with throwing the football in camp. He said it was just Bryant’s confidence, his timing and his rhythm on why he earned the right to be the starter.
Bryant played well in the two most recent scrimmages. He was 10-of-17 for 186 yards and a score in the Aug. 16 scrimmage and then connected on 14-of-20 for 177 yards and a score this past Saturday.
Bryant was relieved he won the job, but he knows his work is not done. Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson, who he beat out, are still working hard and trying getting better.
“I don’t want to get complacent,” he said. “I just want to stay humble because, like I said, those guys in the room they want the position too. It is going to be a position about performance and I’m going to have to keep working each and every day.”
Bryant said he isn’t going to look at this opportunity as a one-game audition either. He is going to do the best he can and will try to think about it that regard.
“If I do what is asked of me, and I am going to do all I can, I’ll finish without any regrets. I’m just going to do me,” Bryant said.
Have you ordered the 2017 Clemson season preview ‘Best is the Standard’ from the staff that covers Clemson football 365 days a year? Order yours today to make sure you get a copy!