During a sit-down interview with ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor, which aired on SportsCenter late Tuesday night, former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant said he would want his former head coach, Dabo Swinney, to know he was appreciative of the opportunity he gave him the last three-plus years at Clemson.
“Thank you for giving a young kid, at a young age, an opportunity to showcase his ability to play quarterback here at Clemson,” Bryant said to Taylor when she asked him what he wanted to say to Swinney.
It was quite the contrast from what Bryant told The Greenville News back on Sept. 26, when he officially announced he was leaving the team and was planning to transfer to another school to close out his college career. Bryant said in the article, “I just don’t feel like I have gotten a fair shot.”
Bryant decide to leave the Clemson program after Swinney and quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter told him they were going to start freshman Trevor Lawrence for the Week 5 game against Syracuse. The news did not make Bryant happy. He felt like he had not done anything to not be the starter.
He said he had done everything that was asked of him, waited his turn and he felt like “it was kind of a slap in the face.”
But time heals all wounds. After having a month to think about it, Bryant indicated he was sincerely appreciative of the opportunity Swinney and Clemson University gave him.
“Also, to get a degree, I appreciate everything he has done for me,” Bryant said to Taylor.
Bryant, who has since been released from his scholarship at Clemson, told Taylor he has not spoken with Swinney since he left the program.
As for those who might not understand or were surprised by his decision to leave Clemson, Bryant can understand why so many people were upset by it. He was the first big-time player to use the new redshirt rule this way.
The NCAA redshirt allows any player the ability to sit out and redshirt the remainder of the season if they do not exceed four games. Bryant started the first four games of the 2018 season for the Tigers.
“I guess since this is the first time that someone has seen this decision being made with the new rule. A lot of people did not expect this decision to be made,” Bryant said. “It was a decision that I had to make for myself. I made it, and I am happy I made it. I am not looking back on it wishing I would have done something differently.”
The graduate said walking away from his teammates was one of the hardest things he has done.
“It is tough because you walk away from what you have been a part of for such a long time,” Bryant said. “All the guys poured into you and you poured into the young guys as well. But, at the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you.
“They will understand whether it is right now or a couple of years down the road.”
While his teammates continue to make a push towards another ACC Championship and possibly another College Football Playoff berth, Bryant is out on the road scouting a new team. The week before, he was in North Carolina on a visit and last Saturday he attended a game at Arkansas.
Bryant is expected to make a visit to Missouri this Saturday and is planning to visit Baylor and Louisville as well.
At Clemson, Bryant started 18 games in his Clemson career and posted a 16-2 record as a starter.
In 2017, he led the Tigers to a third straight ACC Championship and College Football Playoff berth as he completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also ran for 665 and scored 11 touchdowns.
Before leaving the team last month, the Calhoun Falls, S.C., native completed 66.7 percent of passes for 461 yards and two touchdowns in the four games he played in this season.
Bryant also rushed for 130 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns.