Swinney 'saddened and disappointed' by Bryant transfer
|Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 11:10 AM- -|
"Obviously, saddened and disappointed that he has chosen to leave the team," Swinney said. "But I have absolutely nothing bad I can say about Kelly Bryant. He is one of the best young people I have ever been around. even though I don’t think this is a great decision. I certainly respect it, and it doesn’t change anything I feel for Kelly. I love him and care about him. I wish him nothing but the best.
"All I can say another program wherever he decides to go going to get a quality quarterback and a quality young man. We appreciate everything that Kelly gave to this program while he was here. He is a graduate. Like I said he is one of the best young people you could ever be around. It’s disappointing, but that is where we are. Something that he decided that he felt like was best for him, so you have to respect that. As far as the decision as a coach sometimes you have to make a tough decision that are in the best interest of the team and this is one of those decisions.
"And I would make it all over again because I believe it is what is right for our team. I felt like Kelly would have helped us continue to win and play a lot, but that is not what he wanted to do. I certainly could have started him this week which would have limited his options, but that’s not how we operate here. That’s not who we are."
Bryant announced his decision in a report by the Greenville News on Wednesday morning, saying that “I just don’t feel like I’ve gotten a fair shot.”
“They asked me how I felt about it,” Bryant told The News about a Monday 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.”
Swinney addressed those comments.
"He’s entitled to his opinion," Swinney said. "I think we’ve given him a fair shot. I’ve tried to be as open and transparent with Kelly in the process, as I am with all players...I definitely think he's been given a fair shot. I don't think there's any question about that. At the end of the day, this isn't middle school. There's tough decisions that have to be made at this level, and you've got to do what's best for the team. I've had many, many players that have beaten out veterans over the years."
Taking over and leading five touchdown drives in six possessions at Georgia Tech, Lawrence moved ahead of Bryant in pass attempts this season (60 to 54), throwing for 600 yards (to Bryant’s 461) with nine touchdowns (to Bryant’s two) and two interceptions (to Bryant’s one). Bryant was fourth on the team in rushing yards (130) with two scores, and Lawrence has nine attempts for 24 yards
Days after being moved to a backup role, Bryant was confirmed by the school to have missed a second-straight practice Tuesday. Per Swinney, he had been given Monday off after shortly after an “emotional” meeting.
Bryant started 18 games, with Clemson winning 16 of those, and he had improved his passing efficiency numbers from last season in the small sample size, but Bryant faced stiff competition from the five-star freshman Trevor Lawrence, who is now in the top-10 nationally in passing efficiency and yards per attempt.
The Upstate native Bryant is blazing a new trail of sorts as a grad transfer with the new redshirt rule, where a player can see action in up to four games and keep four full seasons of eligibility.
Bryant and Swinney discussed a possible transfer on Monday, but in speaking with the media on Tuesday, Swinney indicated that Bryant wasn't planning to go that route at the time.
"We talked about a lot of things," Swinney said. "I’m not going to get into the details of our conversation. We talked about a lot of things. Like I said it was emotional. A lot of things we talked about. If I was worried about that or I was deceitful in some way or something like that. I could have huddle the coaches and said hey let’s make sure we start him for Syracuse that way he has got no options.
"That’s not how I operate. I don’t think like that. I don’t operate that way. I’m just trying to do what’s right. I’m not ever doing to apologize for that. We talked about lots of things. It was a deep, long, emotional conversation. It was something we needed to talk through and go from there."
Swinney said he expects the locker room to handle the decision fine.
"I don’t think it will affect us at all...These players understand competition," Swinney said. "Players play. Coaches coach. You don’t always agree with the decisions. You get back to work. You take what you’ve got and make the best of it. At the end of the day, this happens every year. A sophomore beats out a senior. An unbelievable freshman...beats out a veteran guy. This is not something that never happens. It just so happens that it’s quarterback this year. That’s just where we are. I don’t know what else to say.”
Lawrence will make his first start in No. 2 Clemson's Saturday noon home kickoff (ABC) versus Syracuse (4-0). Left on the roster for scholarship quarterbacks are redshirt freshman Chase Brice and true freshman Ben Batson, who has been limited with a finger injury.
Brice, a former four-star prospect out of Grayson High School (Ga.), has attempted eight passes and completed five for 37 yards with one interception this season. Batson was a preferred walk-on who was moved on to scholarship this summer.