Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Bryant Relearning Need for Football Playing Passion in Spring Ball

He certainly can play this sport. Can Brandon Bryant love it, though?

Make that love it again. Because somewhere along the way Mississippi State’s safety lost that passion for football. And as this fourth-year junior knows, “At the end of the day you’ve got to love the game that you play.”

So. In a spring season when his varsity peers are refining technique and younger teammates focus on fundamentals…Bryant is reigniting an emotion. With the aid of position coach Ron English, who as a newcomer to Mississippi State was able to recognize the issue…

…and go about fixing things, as Bryant explains here. Spring practices resume Tuesday afternoon.


Coach English said one of his jobs is making you love the game. Are you starting to? BRANDON BRYANT “Oh yeah, I’m starting to get a better feel out there. Not caring about what people got to say, just going out and playing and having fun with my teammates.”


Did he say you had to change, did you tell him? “I mean, I’ve been realizing I had to change. But me and him had a talk face-to-face. I always go to the office and see him. We go over a lot of things. And he just asked me, do I really love football?”

“I just told him how I felt about it. It just went on from there, we had long talk. We talk every day, pretty much. He’s a good coach, a good motivator. He’s a good person to be around. So I try to surround myself around him and try to be like he is. Because he’s a great guy.”


Did it surprise you to be asked that? “No, it didn’t surprise me. Because he told me all during the off-season he knew I worked hard, I’d do what I had to do. But he said it just doesn’t look like you enjoy yourself.”

“So I told him, you know, I didn’t really have too much to say about it. But I wasn’t enjoying it. Of course I‘m going to work hard and go hard and do what I have to. Because I’m a competitive person. But at the end of the day you’ve got to love the game that you play.”


So is it back to being a game again? “Yeah, it’s back to being a game. I’m not worried about nobody else’s expectation. I set a ceiling for myself and that’s all I’m worried about getting to.”


Coach English has been around, what kinds of things have you been able to learn from him? “Oh, he’s just a technician. He wants you to be in tip-top shape on everything that you do, you know? He wants to expand your horizons and your game to the next level. He wants you to play like a next level safety in college. That’s basically what he’s trying to get.”

“Because I mean he coached some great safeties, he coached some guys who won Thorpe, he coached over fifty guys in the NFL. So he really set for the bar for them, so he’s trying to set the bar for us now. Just for like, just a great guy to be around.”

“He’s always happy, he doesn’t ever come in mixed moods and send mixed signals at you. You know, he’ll just be happy and make you feel welcome. So I always go at him and talk to him and try to be the same way he is every day. You know, enjoy everything I do.”


Coach Grantham said he wants a fast, physical, aggressive defense, that has to be music to a safety’s ears? “That’s the motto. Fast, physical, and aggressive is how we’re going to play this year. We had a lot of issues last year on our defense. But we’re past last year right now. We’ve got a new defensive coordinator, a new start you know, that’s what we’re all about right now. So we’ve got to go hard at what we do for him.”


What do you think of the three new safeties? “It’s been good getting to speed. Some of the guys came from junior college, so some of the guys knew what new situation they were coming into. But other than that, they’re picking up speed fast. Of course we all got to come together and just build that brother-ness. We’ve been doing that in the off-season. But of course we’ve got some ways to go to become closer, become a unit on defense. We’ve got to learn to play with each other, around each other. So if one safety goes down the other one is right on speed. So we’ve got to do everything we’ve got to do.”


Are y’all teasing J.T. Gray about being in your group now? “Oh, nah! J.T., I actually thought J.T. was a safety when he first came anyway. That’s what he was supposed to play. But he gained a little weight and we didn’t have anybody to play outside linebacker but Zach Jackson.”

“They moved J.T. there and he fit in that spot good. That’s what he played after that. Now I think he’s in the right position to make his transition to the next level. Because he’s a senior now, he’ll probably go to the NFL after the season and I think that’s what position he’s going to play at, safety.”


You mentioned not worry about what people say. Is that hard to do at first? “Yeah, it was hard for me to do. You know, it’s hard for every kid to do. For every person to go on social media, something like that. You know now we live in an instant world, everything happens so fast and everybody puts stuff out there you might not like. And people say stuff about you you might not like.”

“So you’ve got to don’t worry about nobody else and live up to your standards and your expectations of yourself. And be the best you can be every day and don’t worry about nothing else.”


Since that talk with Coach how is your approach to football changed? “Just put a smile on your face and go hard every day. Give it all you’ve got on the field for however many plays you’ve got.”

“So all my teammates, we’re out there, we enjoy playing football, we enjoy being around each other. But when you’re out there you just have to have fun, you’ve got to have a smile on your face regardless of what happens.”

“Because some bad plays are going to happen sometimes, some good plays are going to happen sometimes. Still you’ve just got to play up to speed and do what you’ve got to do.”

Gene's Page Top Stories