Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant to transfer

September 27, 2018

CLEMSON — Kelly Bryant’s career at Clemson is officially over.

Three days after the senior quarterback was told that freshman Trevor Lawrence would be taking over as the starting quarterback, and two days after the team made that news official, Bryant has decided to leave Clemson and transfer to another school.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney confirmed the news Wednesday morning, adding he offered Bryant the opportunity to stay with the team and continue to practice without playing, thus allowing him to redshirt. Bryant declined.

“I feel like it’s what’s best for me and my future,” Bryant told The Greenville News. “I was just going to control what I could control and try to make the most of my opportunity, but at the end of the day I just don’t feel like I’ve gotten a fair shot.

“I’ve never been a distraction. I’ve never been in trouble with anything. To me, it was kind of a slap in the face.”

The news comes after Bryant missed practice Monday and Tuesday. Swinney said he gave Bryant the day off Monday to process the demotion, but Bryant being a no-show Tuesday raised questions about his plans for the future.

Asked for his response to Bryant’s statement that he was not given a fair shot, Swinney disagreed.

“Absolutely I think we’ve given him a fair shot. I’ve always tried to be as open and honest and transparent as possible with Kelly throughout the process, as we are with all our players,” Swinney said of Bryant, who started 18 games for Clemson and went 16-2. “He was the starter for us all last year and he did a great job and then he came out of (fall) camp slightly ahead and so he continued to start his first four games.

“But like I said, I definitely feel like he’s been given a fair shot. I don’t think there’s any question about that. But at the end of the day this is not middle school. There’s tough decisions that have to be made at this level and you have to do what’s best for the team.”

Swinney said that while he did not agree with Bryant’s decision, he certainly respects it, understanding that Bryant is entitled to make the decisions he believes are best for himself.

The coach said he hopes fans will refrain from saying hurtful things to or about Bryant as he moves on. Bryant was among the best leaders Clemson had and it was clear that the players rallied around him.

“It doesn’t change anything that I feel for Kelly. I love him, care about him, I wish him nothing but the best and again am sad that he has made this decision. All I can say is another program, wherever he decides to go, is going to get a quality quarterback and a very quality young man.

“I think he’s one of the best young people I’ve ever been around. It’s impossible for me to say anything bad about him and I hope nobody else does either.”

Per the NCAA’s new redshirt rules, Bryant is eligible to transfer. A college football player can now play in four games and still keep a redshirt status. Bryant played in exactly four. If he played another snap at Clemson, he would not be able to redshirt.

The Clemson offense is now in the hands of Lawrence, and Bryant’s departure puts Clemson in a precarious position at quarterback. Chase Brice, the third-stringer with limited experience, is now the backup QB behind Lawrence.

Swinney said he could have strategically decided to play Bryant against Syracuse to keep him on the hook and negate the redshirt option, but Clemson did not want to do that to him.

“That’s not how we operate here. It’s not who we are. At the end of the day it is what it is,” Swinney said. “As far as the decision (to start Lawrence), as a coach, sometimes you have to make the tough decisions that are in the best interest of the team and this is one of those decisions and I would make it all over again because I believe it’s what’s right for our team. I feel like Kelly would have continued to help us win and play a lot but that’s not what he wanted to do.”

Clemson (4-0) plays Syracuse (3-0) at noon Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

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