Championship Game MVP: Bryant the best Kelly B he can be


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Kelly Bryant (left) was named as the game's MVP
Kelly Bryant (left) was named as the game's MVP

CHARLOTTE, NC – Kelly Bryant is saving his best for last.

Clemson’s junior quarterback was named Most Valuable Player in Saturday’s ACC Championship victory over Miami, completing 23-of-29 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown. Bryant completed his first 15 passes in a game, breaking the record of 13 set by Deshaun Watson two years ago in the win over North Carolina.

Bryant accepted his award on the stage after the game, and said he never wanted to be Watson. He just wanted to be the best “Kelly B” he could be.

“It's great to see all the work I've been putting in in the off-season just to be in this moment right now. It's special because we had a lot of questions going into the season, a lot of guys that left last year,” Bryant said. “But, you know, just having the guys around me, the coaches believe in me, just been really great to see. I'm just trying to do my job, like Coach Dabo said, be the best version of Kelly B that I can be.”

Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, whose seven tackles had him in line for MVP honors, said Bryant is the same he was in August camp.

“To answer your question, Kelly has just been great all year. Just the guy he's become,” Wilkins said. “Just stayed his-self, been true to himself the whole time. Have all this hype, now he's proven he can play, hasn't let that go to his head. He's still the same goofy Kelly. Now he's emerging as a leader for us even more. Knew he had to step up and be a leader, contribute on the field.

“Now he's even more so of a leader. Guys looking up to him. He's one of the first guys to come over and congratulate the defense when we get a three-and-out, make big plays like that. That doesn't go unnoticed. He's great with that. He's really embracing it. He's been great for us all year.”

Bryant said he – and the entire team – didn’t feel the pressure of a championship game. They were just out having fun.

“For me, I just think that everybody was just having fun out there,” Bryant said. “Offense was clicking. Defense was playing really well. Special teams. Flying around, making plays. It was just great to see everybody was playing, everybody on the same page, everybody in a rhythm.

“It just really shows the type of team we have, a bunch of guys that have bought in, go out there to finish the way we want to finish, never satisfied. We still working to finish the way we want to finish.”

Bryant didn’t do it all by himself – 11 different players caught passes and five different players scored.

“We have a bunch of guys that can make a play for us,” Bryant said. “And also just starting up front, we have guys that do all the dirty work that don't get enough credit for all the things they do up front, making us look good. Just want to give credit to those guys.

“Like I said, it just shows the quality of depth that we have on the offensive side of the ball.”

Bryant – and the Tigers – came out with an attacking mindset.

“We have the mindset each and every week, no matter who we play, to just attack,” Bryant said. “For us on offense, we just continue to play. We have so much depth on that side of the ball, no matter what time it is in the game, what the situation, we can just roll guys in, have no drop-off. The young guys just step up, ready to play, have that mindset.”

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