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Clemson Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant will transfer after losing the starting job over the weekend, according to Manie Robinson of the Greenville News.
“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.”
Bryant took over under center after Deshaun Watson moved on to the NFL following the 2016 season, starting all of his games in the last campaign and each of the first four games this season.
He has a 16-2 record as the Tigers’ starter. However, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is opting to go with true freshman Trevor Lawrence over the senior.
As Swinney alluded to, it was a “tough” decision for all parties involved.
“They asked me how I felt about it,” Bryant told the Greenville News. “I was like: ‘I’m not discrediting Trevor. He’s doing everything asked of him, but on my side of it, I feel like I haven’t done anything to not be the starter. I’ve been here. I’ve waited my turn. I’ve done everything y’all have asked me to do, plus more.’
“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.”
Following the demotion, the 22-year-old made sure to look out for himself.
“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, per Robinson. “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.”
After the news of Bryant’s impending departure was made public, Swinney made it clear that his decision to change quarterbacks should not be viewed as a “slap in the face.”
“He’s entitled to his opinion, but absolutely I think we’ve given him a fair shot. I always tried to be open, honest and transparent as possible with Kelly,” Swinney said, per USA Today Sports’ Dan Wolken. “This isn’t 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 added, per The Athletic’s Matt Fortuna: “Obviously saddened and disappointed that he’s chosen to leave the team, but I really have absolutely nothing bad that I could say about Kelly Bryant. He’s one of the best young people I’ve ever been around.”
While Bryant may not be happy with the Tigers’ decision, Swinney noted Lawrence had earned the nod.
“We’ve played four games now, and it’s a difficult thing, man, it’s a tough day, but it’s just where we are,” Swinney said Tuesday, per ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg. “I’ve told y’all that many times that if we saw a change, if there was a change, we’d probably all know it, and that’s what happened Saturday. And Kelly didn’t do anything wrong. He played well. But Trevor, after four games, productivity and just the sheer data, he deserves to run out there first this game.”
According to Rittenberg, Bryant received Monday off and also missed practice Tuesday.
Bryant is coming off a season in which he led the Tigers to a 12-2 record and an appearance in the College Football Playoff—a 24-6 loss to Alabama in the semifinals.
This year, Bryant had completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 461 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, adding 130 yards and two scores on the ground. Meanwhile, Lawrence has completed 65 percent of his passes for 600 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
Clemson is 4-0 on the season.
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