Things are certainly getting interesting, quarterback-wise, for the second-ranked team in the country.
Monday, Dabo Swinney confirmed that senior Kelly Bryant had been benched in favor of true freshman Trevor Lawrence. A day later, Swinney revealed that he and Bryant had a lengthy conversation in which the two discussed, among other things, the possibility of a transfer.
According to Swinney, he gave Bryant the day off from practice Monday to allow him to wrap his head around the demotion. Both TigerNet.com and The State are now reporting, though, that Bryant missed a second consecutive day of practice on Tuesday.
The obvious intimation from a second straight day of missing practice is that Bryant is seriously contemplating a move from the Tigers — or has already decided a move on is in his best interests. Because of the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, Bryant, who started the first four games of the 2018 season, could leave the Tigers now and retain a year of eligibility that he can use in 2019 at another school.
If he were to play another down this season, however, Bryant’s collegiate career would be over at the end of the 2018 season.
“Certainly if he walked in here today and said, ‘Hey coach, I don’t want to play the rest of the year unless you’ve got to have me,’ well ‘Ok, if that’s what you want to do I’m all for it.’ I love Kelly,” Swinney said earlier today, prior to the reports od a second missed practice surfaced. “I would be disappointed in that because we need him. But I wouldn’t judge him for that.”
Bryant has started the last 18 games under center for the Tigers, winning 16 of those contests. Lawrence was a highly-touted five-star 2018 signee who had outplayed the incumbent the first third of the regular season.
In one of those moments that you wonder how it doesn’t happen more often, Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses crashed into a fence near the corner of a Bryant-Denny Stadium end zone on Saturday and remained down for a few perilous moments. He got up safely, and No. 1 Alabama cruised to a 45-23 win over Texas A&M.
But Nick Saban said Monday Alabama will work to ensure such an event doesn’t happen again.
“They’re going to try to do some stuff to the stadium there to shave that little corner off a little bit and pad it up a little better,” Saban told AL.com. “That was something that, after being here all these years, I never even noticed that until that play. That is definitely something that we are addressing.”
Just a few steps separate the playing field from a padded wall. Moses didn’t actually make contact with the wall, he crashed into a security guard, who was then pinned against the wall.
“As far as the security guard, I feel sorry for him,” Moses said. “But if it wasn’t for him, I’d probably be in the hospital right now because he was really in between the wall and me. I know I ran into his like knee, that was pretty bad, gruesome.”
As AL.com notes, Crimson Tide wide receiver Keith Brown had to be taken off the field in a stretcher after crashing into a wall at the other end of the field in 2004. He suffered a shoulder injury on the play.
Last month, Louisville tight ends coach Chris Klenakis was arrested for DUI, reckless driving, felony wanton endangerment and possession of alcohol. He was pulled over at 1 a.m. after a Saturday during fall camp after he was spotted while driving through a construction zone with workers present and seen swerving on Interstate 64 West, nearly striking a wall barrier multiple times, according to an arrest citation by the Shelby County (Ky.) Sheriff’s Department.
His blood alcohol content was .165, more than twice the legal limit in Kentucky. The sheriff’s department said he nearly walked in front of a moving truck during his field sobriety test and that multiple used beer cans were spotted in his vehicle’s passenger seat.
He was immediately placed on leave, but it seems his legal case will be resolved this week.
According to WDRB in Louisville, Klenakis’s attorney Alan Zaring entered a not guilty plea on Tuesday, but told the judge “we can enter a resolution” on Thursday.
No matter the resolution, Bobby Petrino stated earlier this week Klenakis will remain on administrative leave for the rest of this season.
No. 3 Clemson has formally, finally benched senior quarterback Kelly Bryant in favor of true freshman Trevor Lawrence. Football-wise, it’s the smart decision. Lawrence has thrown 60 passes through the Tigers’ first four games to Bryant’s 54, but Lawrence’s six extra passes have gone for 139 more yards and seven more touchdowns. Plus, Lawrence will be around for the next two-to-three seasons; Bryant will not.
But there is a human element to this equation that made this this obvious decision so gut-wrenching for all involved. Like Jalen Hurts at Alabama, Bryant has been the Good Soldier for Clemson. In fact, the Clemson quarterback conundrum is actually more extreme than Alabama’s. Bryant waited two years behind Deshaun Watson, led Clemson to wins in 16 of his 18 starts, including an ACC championship and a College Football Playoff appearance last season, and still lost his job to a younger player.
It’s no accident this decision came when it did. Thanks to the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, players can now compete in up to four games and not lose their entire season. Clemson is at that point this season. Bryant is a senior, meaning the next game he plays for Clemson clinches this as his last season. Or, if Bryant sits the rest of this year, he could transfer anywhere he wants and get to play his senior year again in 2019.
And it appears Clemson will leave that option open for him.
“Certainly if he walked in here today and said, ‘Hey coach, I don’t want to play the rest of the year unless you’ve got to have me,’ well ‘Ok, if that’s what you want to do I’m all for it.’ I love Kelly,” Dabo Swinney told The State. “I would be disappointed in that because we need him. But I wouldn’t judge him for that.”
Clemson quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter broke the news to Bryant on Sunday, and Bryant had a long conversation with Swinney on Monday, after which the head coach gave his quarterback the rest of the day off.
And Swinney confirmed, in so many words, that transferring was part of that long discussion.
“We talked about lots of things. It was a deep, long, emotional conversation,” Swinney said. “It’s something that we needed to talk through and go from there.”
If indeed Bryant sits the rest of this season and transfers, his name will shoot to the top of the quarterback transfer market for 2019.