Bryant wants "peace of mind"

ATHENS – Nearly a year and a half ago a current Georgia wide receiver was throwing balls rather than catching them.

But it didn't take long for A.J. Bryant to catch on that he would play faster, and likely better, as a receiver. Bryant moved to wide receiver for 2004's spring practice. When he enrolled in college early for the Dawgs' win over Purdue at the 2004 Capital One Bowl he was practicing at quarterback.

"I've come a long way," Bryant said of his play at receiver. "I was floating out there, now I am starting to know what I am doing."

Now Bryant, who is lining up as the third receiver in the Dawgs' three-receiver set, is trying to wrestle the starting split end job away from senior Bryan McClendon, but that will be a difficult task. McClendon enters his fourth season as a Dawg, but he's only got two career starts and 21 career catches, so it's not impossible to think Bryant could win out.

However, Bryant is still learning the nuances of playing receiver – a spot he played only in ninth grade football before coming to Athens; McClendon has a real experience advantage.

"I listen real hard to what Coach Eason has to say; I listen a lot to what Bryan has to say. He gives me his point of view on how to run routes," he said.

Bryant only played in seven games last season because of a foot injury that kept him out parts of the 2004 season, so Bulldog fans have yet to see his full potential. Now healthy, the sophomore from Fort Valley is ready to produce for the Bulldogs.

"It was hard for me to sit out last season because I had never sat out before. I guess God knew what he was doing – he wanted me to just watch and learn," Bryant added.

As far as fall camp, Bryant said: "I'd give myself a C+ so far for camp, but I am getting better. I am going to get to the top one day."

Bryant is notoriously difficult on himself; it's something he's trying to stop doing – perhaps that will help him get to where he wants to be.

"I've got to work on that," he said. "I just need to relax. I just want to be the best so much. And my father (who passed away while Bryant was at Peach County High) always wanted me to be the best. Sometimes I think about what he would be thinking right now if he saw me dropping all of these balls, or not doing this or that right. I've got to stop getting down on myself, but I want to get better. I've just got to relax and get peace of mind."

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