Kelly Bryant started the past 18 games for Clemson… his next start will be for a different school. On Sunday, head coach Dabo Swinney informed Bryant that he was no longer the starting quarterback. Swinney gave Bryant a personal day on Monday to let the news of him losing the starting spot sink in. He then missed practice on Tuesday, and later on, Bryant informed Swinney that he intends to transfer.
Under new NCAA red-shirt guidelines, by leaving Clemson now, Bryant can salvage his final year of eligibility. At this time, he has not decided where he will be transferring too. “I feel like it’s what’s best for me and my future,” Bryant said in an interview earlier this morning. “I was just going to control what I could control and try to make the most of my opportunity, but at the end of the day, I just don’t feel like I’ve gotten a fair shot.”
Bryant, a senior from Calhoun Falls, started the first four games of the season, but split series with freshman Trevor Lawrence in almost all of those games. Bryant completed 66 percent of his pass attempts and averaged 8.6 yards per throw. Lawrence completed 63.9 percent of his attempts and averaged 9.8 yards per throw. Bryant amassed 610 yards of total offense, while Lawrence compiled 631.
Bryant directed eight scoring drives, scoring four touchdowns himself. Lawrence steered 15 scoring drives, throwing nine touchdowns, including four Saturday at Georgia Tech. Swinney asserted that the quarterback rotation would continue, but he never affirmed that Bryant would keep his QB1 spot. Swinney portrayed the switch as a reward for Lawrence for his stellar games, and not a punishment for Bryant.
“They asked me how I felt about it,” Bryant said, recalling his meeting with Swinney. “I was like, ‘I’m not discrediting Trevor. He’s doing everything asked of him, but on my side of it, I feel like I haven’t done anything to not be the starter. I’ve been here. I’ve waited my turn. I’ve done everything y’all have asked me to do, plus more. I’ve never been a distraction. I’ve never been in trouble with anything.’ To me, it was kind of a slap in the face.”
Bryant signed with Clemson in 2014 after an All-State career at Wren High School. He appeared in 12 games through his first two seasons at Clemson, as he had to wait for his time behind Deshaun Watson. Bryant seized the starting role in 2017. He became the third native South Carolinian to start at quarterback for Clemson through the last 100 years. He led the Tigers to a Palmetto Bowl victory, an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, and an appearance in the College Football Playoff. Bryant accrued 4,300 yards of total offense and 32 touchdowns through 30 career games, compiling a 16-2 record as a starter.
The demotion fell at a favorable point on the schedule for Bryant. The NCAA loosened its restrictions on red-shirting this season. Players can now appear in a maximum of four games without sacrificing a year of eligibility. If Bryant played a single snap against Syracuse, his college career would be over in January. By withdrawing from the remainder of the season, he will be eligible to play immediately at another program next year.
Personally, to me, this news was absolutely mind boggling! If you are a college football fan in the slightest, you know how well Kelly B has played over the past two years. But we all knew that coming into this year he was going to be pushed HARD to win that starting spot coming out of camp. To see him come out the first games and start was awesome, but you knew with Trevor Lawrence coming in hot he was going to take over sooner or later. I never expected Kelly B to transfer at all, but if you look at the bigger picture it makes sense.