The hot storyline of the weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas has been the official visit of Clemson graduate transfer, Kelly Bryant.
If you have followed college football for the past 10 years, the Clemson Tigers have transformed from a mediocre ACC team with expectations of 6-8 win seasons and now have College Football Playoff expectations annually. A lot of that had to do with current Arkansas head coach, Chad Morris. Arkansas fans know the history of Morris and his time as offensive coordinator at Clemson. How Morris’ offense would score 40 points and gain 400 yards at relative ease. Developing quarterback, Tajh Boyd from an ok quarterback into a star was his first feat in his Clemson career. In 2014, he recruited Deshaun Watson and was a dynamic quarterback in his freshman season with 1600 yards passing, 14 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the second half of the season.
Before Morris left Clemson, he began to recruit 4-star quarterback, Kelly Bryant out of Piedmont, South Carolina. Bryant was a stud his senior year throwing for 3,579 yards and 41 touchdowns and 720 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. He was a great athlete with an exceptional arm who was destined for greatness as Clemson’s next big time quarterback.
After being the backup quarterback for Watson, Bryant’s wait finally paid off and was able to start his junior season. He would lead Clemson to the College Football Playoff in his first season as a starter. Although not playing well in a loss to eventual National Champion, Alabama, Bryant was able to put up efficient numbers during the 2017 season. Bryant was 263-398 65% completion percentage, 2,892 yards, 13 touchdowns and 8 interceptions on the season. He also rushed 192 times for 665 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s 3,557 total yards and 24 touchdowns. Those are impressive numbers for a first year starter. Do you not believe me? Check out his 2017 tape: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eYytRJ9eyTM
With a great start to the 2018 season with a great win on the road at Texas A&M and a 4-0 start, Clemson head coach, Dabo Swinney apparently had a quarterback controversy on the season. True freshman quarterback, Trevor Lawrence was chosen as the starter after game 4, replacing returning incumbent starter, Bryant. Bryant decided to use the graduate transfer route and leave Clemson.
With his first visit, he chose to head to Fayetteville and meet with the coach that recruited him first to Clemson, Coach Morris. Bryant seemed to be completely engaged into the Razorback game this morning against Tulsa. After a sack by Arkansas defensive lineman, McTelvin Agim, Bryant was cheering hard, jumping and was pumped up with the crowd around him. He seemed to be enjoying himself throughout the game but who knows what is going through the head of this stud transfer quarterback. Will he come to Arkansas or no? Let’s talk!
Kelly Bryant will not come if:
1) Offensive Line woes continue to be a thing.
Arkansas needs to find a center who can properly snap the football on a consistent basis. There have been times this season Arkansas has avoided the worst of bad snaps until today as Ty Clary snapped a ball to the left of freshman quarterback, Connor Noland, who was able to fall on it and avoid the turnover. Arkansas’ offensive line has improved some since the dreadful 2017 season but still struggles at times properly sealing blocks in pass protection, especially at both tackles and at left guard. With Bryant being more of a dual threat than any quarterback that Arkansas currently has on the roster, he definitely could make the coaching staff and fans forget the line woes in 2019. With the graduation of offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt, Brian Wallace and Johnny Gibson AND the retirements of Deion Malone, Dylan Hays, Jalen Merrick and Jake Heinrich, the Razorbacks will have plenty of offensive lineman scholarships in this class. If Hog coaching staff want immediate help, going the JUCO route should be the way to go. High School seniors Joe Stone, Beaux Limmer and Brady Latham already committed, the Hog staff should go after Bamidale Olaseni, Chibueze Nwanna, Tim Anderson and Josh Donovan should be heavily pursed to shore up and produce an SEC offensive line.
2) Receivers stepping up *kinda*
This position had 13 scholarship players beginning this season. With the heavy use of the receiver position in the Morris offense, many fans and myself included were stoked about the depth! For whatever reason, this has not been a strength on the roster this season. Mike Woods, Jordan Jones and LaMichael Pettway have shown flashes but when it comes to blocking, none seem to have the desire to block on the edges to properly execute the play call. Another problem this group has is getting separation from their defender. Whether it be quick slants, screens or the deep ball none of them have been successful at getting open. There is hope though with the current 2019 recruiting class the Razorbacks have coming in. Treylon Burks, Trey Knox, Shamar Nash and TQ Jackson the Hogs could shore up that problem and would give Arkansas a young but very talented receiver corp to throw to.
If Arkansas has any hope at improving and moving up fast with Kelly Bryant at quarterback, half effort from upperclassmen will need to be put to rest. Too many times, offensive and defensive players will quit halfway through a play. I will not name any of the players but Morris knows who they are. There is some grit on this team but not many have the WILL. The greatest NFL coach, Vince Lombardi, once said: “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, lack of knowledge but rather a lack of WILL.”
3) Razorbacks need players with WILL.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to speak to the Sheridan football team and told them that you need to have the WILL to execute, play and win. That is exactly what Arkansas needs. The last five SEC games Arkansas has led going into the fourth quarter, they have lost. Every time the Razorbacks seem to lose their momentum and see the tide is about to turn in the game, they abandon their will. They did just that against Ole Miss in Little Rock last Saturday. Kelly Bryant is a College Football Playoff caliber quarterback looking to kickstart the program he chooses. Arkansas needs that.
Ty Storey has been a pleasant surprise this season as the starting quarterback in the new spread offense. I am all for Storey and think he is a terrific ambassador of this Razorback Football program but when you have a championship caliber quarterback looking to transfer to your program, you pursue him. Storey will fight tooth and nail to beat him out. These underclassmen Arkansas currently have on the roster and the men they are recruiting/committed all have the WILL to not give up, play through their stingers and have that WILL!
Bryant could see the problems on The Hill and decide that Arkansas is not the place for him to be. BUT, Arkansas did receive the first official visit from Bryant. That counts for something right? So, you are saying there is a chance? Yes. There is always a chance.
Will Arkansas receive the services of Kelly Bryant? Razorback nation hopes!