Everyone knew the NCAA’s new redshirt rule was going to change college football, especially by grooming freshmen with playing time before saving them for next season and beyond. Little did anyone see a starting quarterback from the College Football Playoff last season as someone who would exercise it.
If someone walked up to you before the season and said a Clemson quarterback would redshirt this season, most everyone would have said it would be freshman Trevor Lawrence. Well, it happens to be senior quarterback Kelly Bryant, and he has officially played his last snap for the Tigers, according to the Greenville News.
This decision comes following No. 3 Clemson’s 49-21 road win at Georgia Tech, and after head coach Dabo Swinney named the true freshman Lawrence the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.
Bryant started the game, which was his 18th-straight start for the Clemson Tigers, and completed 6 of 10 passes for 56 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lawrence, on the other hand, went 13-for-18 for 176 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
So, Swinney made the switch permanent, and the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Bryant will do the same.
“I feel like it’s what’s best for me and my future. 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.” — Kelly Bryant, via Greenville News
For those who didn’t believe Clemson had a legitimate quarterback controversy, guess again.
A senior from Calhoun Falls, South Carolina, Bryant completed 66 percent (35-for-53) of his passes for 456 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in 2018, while also adding 144 rushing yards with two more scores in games against Furman, Texas A&M, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech.
As a junior in 2017, Bryant led the Tigers to the College Football Playoff by completing 262 of 398 passes for 2,802 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and rushing for 665 yards on 192 attempts and 11 touchdowns.
Clearly, Kelly Bryant is a talented dual-threat quarterback with a track record for winning. However, Trevor Lawrence, a 6-foot-5 pro-style quarterback, is the option Clemson coach Dabo Swinney wants to roll with this Saturday against Syracuse, for the remainder of the season and in the future.
“I’ve been with this senior class for four years. Seeing how much we built and poured into this program, it’s tough to walk away from it,” Bryant said. “But at the same time, I’ve got to do what’s best for me. And I feel like this is the best situation for me.”
So with playing in the first four games, Bryant, who missed the first two days of practice this week is free to leave and will be a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility for the 2019 season under the new redshirt rule.
Only time will tell where Bryant ends his college career, but his days at Clemson are over and the new NCAA redshirt rule made it possible.