Clemson football: Deshaun Watson who? Tigers QB Kelly Bryant becoming own man
CLEMSON – Kelly Bryant strolled into the media setup Monday at Clemson's Poe Indoor Facility, took a seat at the interview table, and began playfully doing microphone checks.
A big smile etched across his face, it was a rare lighthearted moment so far with reporters from the usually all-business first-year starting quarterback. It was telling in that it showed the 20-year-old junior's increasing comfort level is evolving as much off the field as on, embracing the responsibilities that come with being the leader of the second-ranked team in the country.
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Seeing how Bryant seemed more at ease than normal, a reporter commented that with the much-hyped Louisville game now successfully behind the Tigers, it was time to have some fun now.
"Pfft, that's every day," was his response.
Now three consecutive wins into his starting tenure, Bryant continues to check off all the requisite boxes that come with a young man in his position while continuing to alleviate the dwindling concerns from a fan base who began the year rightfully wondering how the team would ever replace the legendary Deshaun Watson.
Asked how his comfort level was now, with huge underdog Boston College coming to Death Valley this weekend, compared to his starting debut against Kent State, Bryant said it's remained the same.
"Just be Kelly B, that's how my comfort level has been. That's something I just keep telling myself day in and day out."
Being true to himself certainly has worked out swimmingly so far, with Bryant showing toughness in a primetime win at home versus No. 14 Auburn followed by a magnificent outing in his road starting debut. The Tigers thumped 14th-ranked Louisville, 47-21, in front of a stunned sold-out crowd, with Bryant deftly displaying all the intangibles that makes one think he's got the goods over the long haul to provide the program a chance at a third straight college football playoff appearance.
He was named the ACC Back of the Week and selected to the national Davey O'Brien National QB Award Great 8 list after completing 22 of 32 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown and rushing for two more touchdowns (outshining Louisville's Heisman-winning Lamar Jackson) in leading Clemson to 613 yards, fifth-highest ever in a road game. He was 6 of 9 for 99 yards on third down with each completion gaining a first down. For the season, Bryant is 57 of 83 passing (69 percent) for 733 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and is third in rushing with 162 yards and a team-high five touchdowns.
He will be better than me! https://t.co/CUyyNcesZO— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) September 17, 2017
Bryant shrugged off any notion he was extra motivated Saturday having the reigning Heisman winner on the other team. "I just wanted to go in and play the best I could play. That's the mentality we have each and every week, play to the standard, and we can live with the result."
Bryant continued addressing his doubters, adding, "I knew what I could do. A lot of people want to put question marks on me so of course I'm still going to try and play my game and just do me. I feel I've done some good things and moving forward can still improve as well."
All that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney could hope for has occurred with the rapid maturation of his quarterback. Swinney never hid his excitement about Bryant's performance during the preseason, but until his new starter proved things when it counted, all he could do was hope his good off-field work translated to game day.
"I didn't know, hadn't seen him do it on game day, so every week I'm learning something about him, just like ya'll," Swinney said. "I'm just really proud of him and it's awesome to see him having the success he's having because he put the time in and worked and earned it. He has complete ownership of what we're doing and now his confidence is (sky high) because he's got the experience to go with it."
This article is written by Eric Boynton from Spartanburg Herald-Journal and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.