"I definitely would be lying to you if I said I didn't mind playing tackle," said Bryan, laughing. "I never wanted to play tackle. I didn't want to play tackle at all. Tight end is where i wanted to play, and it worked out well for me."
It definitely did. A three-year starter, Bryan is a two-time first-team All-ACC selection and is considered by many to be one of the top tight ends in the country. A preseason second-team All-America pick by Lindy's, Bryan is tied for ninth in school history with 13 career touchdown receptions, the highest mark among returning players.
While analysts and some fans believed Bryan would end up at offensive tackle, the Wolfpack coaching staff knew he was the ideal tight end in their offensive system.
"I don't think anyone really lost faith in me being able to play tight end," Bryan said. "To be honest, I just think that was an Internet rumor. I think people thought I could grow into tackle, which would have been fine. I would have played wherever they wanted me to play, but I'm glad it's at tight end."
Despite being one of the Pack's top recruits in the 2007 class, Bryan redshirted as a freshman. To him, it wasn't about being ranked high in recruiting rankings... he needed to adjust to the college game and get stronger physically to handle the rigors of the position. In fact, Bryan doesn't pay too much attention to any recruiting rankings.
"I don't follow recruiting that much at all," he said. "I just hear about the guys that are coming or we're recruiting from the coaches. I think the rankings, there are probably some one or two-star recruits that are better than four-stars. To me, I think it's more about who you know and how much you get put out there. That's just my opinion."
While the Pack is stable at tight end there has been plenty of change offensively from last season. According to Tom O'Brien, the biggest concern is at wide receiver where the Wolfpack must replace three major contributors in Owen Spencer, Darrell Davis, and Jarvis Williams.
"I think coach is right, that will be the biggest transition," said Bryan. "We had some great playmakers last year with Owen, Jarvis, and 'Double D,' but I think we have some receivers that can fill those roles this year.
"I think Jay Smith is definitely going to have a big year. He's got the body for it, and he's athletic... I'd say he's going to have a big year off what I've seen from him during workouts. The biggest thing is all the receivers need experience, and they need time to develop chemistry with Mike."
Which brings us to the biggest question mark for a lot of folks: quarterback. Gone is star Russell Wilson... he'll be playing his senior season at Wisconsin. Mike Glennon is now the man in Raleigh, and Bryan feels the redshirt junior has what it takes to succeed.
"I think Mike and Russell are similar in their games," Bryan stated. "They are both good leaders, and I think they are both great quarterbacks. I was able to work with Mike a lot in the spring, and I think he runs through his reads. [Laughing] I hope he likes throwing me the ball. We're focused on Mike. He is our quarterback now and the years coming up.
"Plus, I think our offensive line is going to be a big surprise and really help out Mike. They've played a little bit now and built up a connection. They also don't want anyone getting to Mike. I think they are definitely going to do well and try their hardest to block everybody."
NC State finished 2010 ranked nationally and 9-4 overall... the program took major strides last fall. There have been some departures and questions remain, but Bryan feels that NC State can be even better.
"It's definitely nice to look at the polls and see your team in the top 25 at the end of these season, but that was last year," he said. "I feel like you've got to focus on the year coming up, and we want to finish higher than No. 25 this year. But, it is good seeing your team there. It's big for the university.
"I definitely think we've taken some strides... give the credit to the coaching staff for pushing us and the players. I think we're on the rise as a program. The sky is the limit."