By Nate Smith
On Wednesday, Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney was asked about former Clemson and current Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant. Speaking to ESPN, Swinney said “(Bryant) wasn’t on the team. You’ve got to be on a team to get a ring…I love Kelly and appreciate what he did for us, but he decided to move on.” Swinney of course was referencing Kelly Bryant’s departure from Clemson last season after four games. Clemson went on to win the College Football Playoff National Championship with Trevor Lawrence replacing Bryant at quarterback.
On Thursday, Swinney made his stance on the matter crystal clear, doubling down on his remarks from the day before. “There’s nothing else to comment on…I mean, what do you want me to say? He wasn’t on the team. Simple as that. We played 11 games after he left.” While it looks like Kelly Bryant won’t be receiving a championship ring for his contributions to Clemson last year, he did receive one for his role as Deshaun Watson’s backup on 2017 title team.
Fortunately for the new leader of the Missouri Tigers offense, there is good news to counter the negativity. Bryant returned to the practice field on Wednesday, following a day off for the team on Tuesday. Bryant was carted off the field on Monday, leaving many fans in a momentary state of panic, before Mizzou Head Coach Barry Odom weighed in. As I wrote on Tuesday, Odom downplayed the severity of injuries to both Bryant and tight end Albert Okwuegbanum, in comments made to Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
For the Mizzou faithful, Bryant’s health and on-field success is much more important than whether or not he is to receive another ring from Clemson. Fans shouldn’t hold ill will against Dabo Swinney, who despite his firm stance, did reiterate that he has love for Kelly Bryant. But that hasn’t stopped several well known media personalities from chiming in. Max Kellerman and Ryan Clark had an interesting debate, while PowerMizzou.com’s Gabe DeArmond had perhaps the best and most reasonable take on the matter.
As for Kelly Bryant himself, he will continue to focus on progressing through Mizzou’s fall camp, before officially debuting for the Tigers on August 31 in Wyoming.