Myth Buster

Serderius Bryant has always had to answer questions regarding his size. He's heard it all before. He's undersized for a linebacker. Well, for any position, really.

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Bryant is generously listed at 5-foot-10 in the Ole Miss media guide. Really, though, he is a few inches shorter. And like other undersized athletes, he uses his lack of height as a motivational tool. Because he believes he can play this game and play it well.

He has a confidence; a confidence that has only grown as the competition has become tougher. Bryant is in his freshman season in the Southeastern Conference. He's been thrown into the fire.

"People are still going to talk about my size," he said.

For Bryant, games like the one Saturday against Georgia -- a 27-13 Ole Miss loss – is how he proves himself; how he shows the doubters he is able to perform when matched against players bigger and more physically imposing.

The Sanford, Fla., native received his most extensive action to date against the Bulldogs. He didn't start but still found a way to finish third on the team in tackles with eight, including five solo stops.

"I use my size as an advantage in this game," Bryant said.

Being undersized has its benefits. Instead of taking on blocks as a linebacker, Bryant said he dips under the blocks of 6-foot-plus offensive linemen and tight ends, as he did against Georgia. By any means necessary. He does what he has to.

He has something to prove, a chip on the shoulder of his 223-pound frame.

Serderius Bryant
Chuck Rounsaville

"You know, I had a pretty good game Saturday but I don't think that was good enough to prove that, OK, his size don't mean nothing," Bryant said. "When I get out there next week, people are still going to say something about my size. I'm just going to have to keep proving myself every week. If it takes me to the NFL, I'm going to have to prove myself in the NFL."

Ole Miss (1-3, 0-2 SEC) travels to Fresno State (2-2, 1-1 WAC) Saturday, a game scheduled for an 8:15 CT start. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

Bryant believes he has positioned himself for a bigger role on the defense -- which ranks fifth in the conference in sacks and third in redzone defense -- moving forward, especially after his most recent performance.

"I think I showed the coaches that they can trust me a little bit in big games, ‘cause that was a pretty big game," he said. "I really didn't make big mistakes. I think the coaches have earned more trust in me, and they know they can put me in in some big games."

Unlike most freshmen, Bryant didn't battle nerves the more time he played. Rather, he relied on his confidence. "I always have confidence," he said, adding he has always felt he was a "pretty good player."

He was only waiting for his chance. And when he got it, he performed.

"It felt great. It was a dream come true," he said. "I always pictured myself playing against a team like Georgia or any team in the SEC. I always pictured myself playing against teams like that. It just felt great getting out there, getting my feet wet a little bit, getting ready for Fresno."

Bryant likened the experience to high school. Bryant starred for Seminole High School for four seasons, where he was ranked the No. 83 outside linebacker in the nation by, and a three-star prospect. He posted 151 tackles, four interceptions and 2.0 sacks as a senior, leading his team to the Class 6A state semifinals.

"I ain't going to lie, it felt like high school. I wouldn't want to tell anybody that because I don't want them to think ‘OK, he's trying to be cocky.' It felt like high school to me," he said. "I was out there having fun. When I'm having fun with the game, when anybody has fun with the game, you play pretty good when you have fun, ‘cause that's all it is. If you have fun, you play good."

Bryant is one of 30 Rebels to make their debut this season, and one of eight true freshmen. He signed with Ole Miss in the highly-touted recruiting class of 2011. Bryant said if the group stays together, the future prospects of Ole Miss football are promising.

"We always talk about it, to tell you the truth. Man, we got a good class," he said. "If we stay together, with all us freshmen doing what we're doing right now, imagine next year, the year after that. Imagine a couple of years from now what we'll be doing. I think we'll be in Atlanta."

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