Kelly Bryant: "When guys see I am confident, they rally around it"


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Kelly Bryant:

CLEMSON – Kelly Bryant has his swagger back, and that’s bad news for the competition, whether it’s the players he’s competing against for the starting spot or Kent St. in a month.

Bryant bounced around Clemson’s practice fields Thursday with a heightened sense of urgency and energy as he battles Zerrick Cooper, Hunter Johnson, Chase Brice and Tucker Israel (when he gets healthy) for the right to stand behind center when the Tigers open the season against Kent St. in four weeks.

That sense of confidence is something he worked on during the offseason.

“That’s something that I have really tried to focus on during the offseason just getting back to myself and just having fun with it and getting that confidence,” Bryant said after Thursday’s practice. “That’s something that I try to preach every day that I come out here in the meeting rooms and off the field just having that confidence in my walk. It helps me so much more when I am confident and believe in myself. When guys see that I am confident, they can rally around it as well.”

He then said that he’s not afraid of the competition.

“I am definitely embracing it and just taking it every day and learning from it,” Bryant said. “All the guys in the room are pushing each other to be the guy and that helps the competition in the room. We all compete and want the job.”

Even though he doesn’t have an older quarterback like Deshaun Watson or Nick Schuessler to lean on this season – he’s the old man of the group – Bryant is heeding the wisdom of another former in-state star that turned into one of the most dynamic playmakers in Clemson history.

“I have a really good relationship with Woody Dantzler. He’s been in my ear lately and giving me some tips and words of wisdom getting ready for camp and for the season, Bryant said. “He was in the situation I am in now in the competition. He’s been there, he has played here and he has been successful here. He has told me what to expect to play the position of quarterback and what comes along with it on and off the field. He’s been a good asset to me over the summer.”

The players recently had time to go home and visit family or take a mini-vacation before the start of camp, but Bryant stayed in Clemson and worked out. Why? He knows the job isn’t his. Not yet.

“Got to get better, man. There are other players that stayed here as well and got a little grind in,” Bryant said. “This also gave us a time to get away, as well. Leading up to camp, we just wanted to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. It’s good and all, but the job is not done. I am not the starter yet and have to handle everything in a professional manner, lead the team and do what is asked of me to be the quarterback.

“We’ve been building chemistry all offseason with late nights and early mornings. We’ve been in the indoor facility and outside just getting our timing down as well with all those guys because we have so much depth at those positions. It helps that we have an experienced offensive line up front blocking for us to help me get the ball out to those guys and helping them make plays.”

Clemson’s offense has to replace a wealth of talent at the skill positions, but Bryant says the players who watched last season’s heroics are now ready to write their own stories. He even said there is a word that describes their attitude.

“Hungry. Everybody wants to go out there and prove themselves and make a name for themselves,” Bryant said. “Last year is last year and everyone wants to talk about last year, but we feel the guys in the offense and in those position rooms can do the same things as those guys last year. We are all hungry.

“Milan Richard at tight end is a guy who has been here. Like I said, he is hungry and ready for that role. Him, D.J. Greenlee, Deon Cain, Ray-Ray (McCloud), (C.J.) Fuller and all those guys in the running back room as well. The competitions out here are increasing their leadership because guys want to be that focal point. Guys want to see other guys making plays and keep them in order as well.”

Bryant was asked about Watson, and he reminded everyone that he and Watson are two different players.

“I try not to imitate anybody. I just try to be myself and have fun with it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I am going to enjoy it to the fullest and not put too much pressure on myself,” he said. “I don’t want to try to be like Deshaun. Deshaun wasn’t Tajh Boyd and Tajh Boyd wasn’t Kyle Parker when he was here. They all did different things with the offense and I am going to try and be myself.”

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