When Kelly Bryant committed to Clemson last April, he was viewed as a quality pickup and a player that could add much-needed depth to the quarterback position in the years to come.
As a pocket passer, he was average, but as an athlete, he was elite.
Coming off a senior season that saw him pass for more than 3,500 yards and 41 touchdowns while also adding more than 700 rushing yards and 14 more scores, that notion began to change.
For his efforts, Bryant was named a finalist for Mr. Football in South Carolina, and rightfully so. Working with quarterback instructor Ramon Robinson since he was a sophomore, Bryant has shown he has the natural talent and the ability to learn new skills at a high level.
He originally attended Abbeville HS, where he ran the triple option, before landing at Wren.
"He's always done the little things that it takes to be a quarterback, as far as studying and learning the coverages," Robinson notes. "But now I feel like a big asset to him is being able to recognize defenses. He's a quick learner. He picked up the learning curve early once he got over to Wren High School and learning under coach [Jeff] Tate."
Having enrolled at Clemson earlier this week, Bryant will be competing for the back-up quarterback spot with fellow freshman Tucker Israel, not to mention veteran Nick Schuessler this spring.
Here's a closer look at what to expect from the incoming freshman as he prepares for his first spring practice:
|Kelly Bryant could be Clemson's backup quarterback this fall.|
RANK: #44 QB
CHOSE CLEMSON OVER: South Carolina, Ole Miss, Florida, N.C. State
STRENGTH: Bryant has Woody Dantzler-type athleticism and is tall enough in the pocket to see deep down the field. He has become better in the last year going through his progressions and finding ways to create big plays in the passing game. He also comes from a similar style of offense at Wren HS and will be comfortable running the no-huddle offense right out of the gate.
WHERE HE CAN IMPROVE: He'll need to continue to work on his fundamentals in the passing game and understand in college it won't be as easy to outrun opposing defenses. As a dual-threat quarterback, it will also be important for him to avoid big hits when he escapes the pocket. But the big thing will be understanding what defenses in college will do to try to confuse him in the pocket, take what they give you and simply get better with film study on a day-to-day basis.
QUOTEABLE: "Bryant is a big, physical guy - 6-4 and 200-plus pounds. We more than addressed our needs here." - Dabo Swinney on Kelly Bryant.
PREDICTION: Bryant, because of his size and athleticism, beats out Schuessler and Israel this spring to become Deshaun Watson's backup entering the 2015 season. He adds about 10 more pounds of "good weight" as he pushes towards the 215-pound range. As a freshman, he sees playing time in six games, rushing for 200 yards and passing for another 350. While the majority of those snaps will be in mop-up duty, don't be surprised to see him get the opportunity to showcase his speed in certain down-and-distance situations. He's that explosive.