Just days after being informed that he would be replaced as Clemson’s starting quarterback, Kelly Bryant is transferring.
He told the Greenville News that he felt the decision to leave Clemson was the best decision he can make. Five-star freshman Trevor Lawrence will start for the Tigers against Syracuse on Saturday.
“I feel like it’s what’s best for me and my future,” Bryant said. “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.”
We’re guessing Bryant is referring to 2018 when it comes to his comment about getting a fair shot because he was the team’s undisputed starter in 2017 as Clemson made the College Football Playoff. The team signed Lawrence in the early signing period and the freshman quarterback joined the team at the beginning of the spring semester. He practiced with the Tigers during the spring and played in the spring game.
But Bryant still opened the season as the team’s starter. The team made the change after playing Georgia Tech, and Bryant met with coach Dabo Swinney on Monday about the quarterback change. Swinney gave Bryant the day off practice on Monday and the QB didn’t practice on Tuesday.
“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.”
Swinney was asked about Bryant’s comments during his teleconference Wednesday. He said the quarterback was entitled to his opinion but believed he had given him a fair shot. It’s worth noting that if Swinney and his coaching staff waited a week longer to make the change then Bryant wouldn’t be able to play college football after the 2018 season.
Bryant can still redshirt
Bryant, a senior, is still able to redshirt in 2018. A new NCAA rule allows players to play in four games a season and redshirt. Clemson is 4-0. As long as Bryant doesn’t play again in 2018, he’ll be immediately eligible to play somewhere in 2019 as a graduate transfer. He’s already received his degree.
He isn’t the first player to announce a transfer this week by utilizing the new rule. Senior Oklahoma State WR Jalen McCleskey, a man with 167 career catches with the Cowboys, said he was transferring because of a lack of playing time.
The Lawrence era is now
Bryant did well in the shadow of Deshaun Watson, the Clemson QB who led the Tigers to the national title with a last-second win over Alabama in January 2017. But he’s been outplayed by Lawrence so far in 2018, even if he understandably feels that he hasn’t done anything to lose his starting job.
Lawrence is 39-of-60 passing for 600 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions. Bryant is 36-of-54 passing for 461 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. While Bryant has the slightly better completion percentage, Lawrence is averaging 1.5 yards more per attempt and has been far better at throwing completions into the end zone. This tweet by David Hale breaks down the drives each quarterback has captained.
Drive by drive breakdown of Kelly Bryant vs. Trevor Lawrence. Kelly’s been good. Trevor’s been… real good. pic.twitter.com/6O6HDN3vRC
— A David Hale joint (@DavidHaleESPN) September 24, 2018
It’s also a bit surprising that Clemson is the first national power to have a quarterback transfer in 2018. A lot of people figured that Alabama would have a quarterback leave the program before the Tigers because of the competition between Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts. But both of them are still with Alabama and look to be for the rest of the season. And Georgia, with incoming starter Jake Fromm playing well and five-star freshman Justin Fields behind him, still has both of its quarterbacks on the roster.
Rivals’ Woody Wommack also noted that Bryant is the fourth quarterback to transfer out of the program since Lawrence originally committed to Clemson. Lawrence was the top-rated quarterback in the class of 2018, according to Rivals.
Since the arrival of Trevor Lawrence at Clemson, the following quarterbacks have transferred
5* Hunter Johnson
4* Zerrick Cooper
4* Kelly Bryant
3* Tucker Isreal
4* Chase Brice is the only QB left on the roster from the pre-Trevor era
— Woody Wommack (@RivalsWoody) September 26, 2018
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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