When someone is deemed important, they’re considered significant to the overall success of the company, family or team.
To succeed in team sports it takes a group of players to come together for a common goal. The goal for every team is to ultimately win a championship. At first it is a region, division or conference championship and if things progress it can be a state championship, national championship or even a Super Bowl.
To win these championships there are certain players that are considered important to the overall success of the team. In this series, The Clemson Insider takes a look at the 10 players we feel are important to the Tigers’ chances of winning a second national title in three years.
No. 7 Austin Bryant
Why not? He wears No. 7.
However, Bryant is more than just the number he wears on Saturdays in the fall. Last year, he literally blossomed into an All-American at defensive end and was the biggest surprise on a defense that is loaded with talent.
In just his second start, he tied an all-time single-game record with four sacks against Auburn. He also tallied five tackles at Virginia Tech and had 2.5 tackles for loss, plus made one of the most amazing interceptions of the season in college football.
Bryant also had eight tackles against Wake Forest and 2.5 more tackles for loss.
But, of Clemson’s four superstars on the defensive line, Bryant is perhaps the one that is the least talked about. However, it doesn’t mean he is any less talented. Just look at his numbers.
At 6-foot-5, 265 pounds Bryant finished 2017 with 15.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 8.5 sacks. Both figures ranked second behind Ferrell. He also had 58 overall tackles and 12 quarterback pressures.
Before the 2016 season was to start, Bryant was projected to be a starter along with Clelin Ferrell at the other bookend. But an injury to his foot caused him to miss the first nine games of the season.
Though he had his moments in the final six games coming off the bench, including in the national championship game when he filled in for an injured Ferrell, no one really knew what to expect from Bryant when the Tigers kicked off the 2017 football season.
“I learned a lot about myself as a person, as a man, and how to deal with adversity,” Bryant said. “Until then I had a smooth career; everything was going the way I wanted it to go and then something like that happened and you just have to learn how to persevere, fight back, and continue to believe in yourself when times are tough.”
Bryant finished his junior season as a First-Team All-American by the Football Writers Association. He was also named to the Walter Camp’s and the Associated Press’ All-American Teams.
Not a bad season at all for a guy no one was really sure about when the year began.
In January, Bryant surprised everyone again when he announced, along with Ferrell and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, his return to Clemson for his senior season.
With fall camp starting on Aug. 2, expectations for Bryant this time around are a little bit different than the previous two years. Now that everyone knows what he is capable of, he is expected to be just one part of a four-piece puzzle on the defensive line that will terrorize opposing quarterbacks in 2018.
Clemson’s 10 Most Important Players for 2018
Hot off the press. ‘Back with a Vengeance’ is now available for online orders. TCI takes an in-depth look at the upcoming season as the Tigers march towards another national championship. Order your copy today!