Kelly Bryant committed to Missouri on Tuesday night.
What seemed improbable two months ago — around the time Bryant announced his intent to transfer from Clemson — became reality. Bryant, a former four-star quarterback recruit who went 16-2 in 18 starts at Clemson, picked Missouri over Auburn and Mississippi State and Arkansas and maybe even schools like Florida and Oregon, which at least expressed interest.
This is a big get for Missouri, but not because Bryant will suddenly become an All-American quarterback or a Heisman contender or a first-round draft pick. At Clemson, he showed himself to be a versatile, effective and efficient quarterback through the air and a solid threat on the ground.
If he were more than that, he very well would still be at Clemson. Instead, he was beat out by a phenom freshman named Trevor Lawrence (by far the best quarterback recruit I’ve seen during the ten years I covered Missouri and then national recruiting).
Don’t get me wrong, Bryant is exactly what Missouri — and probably at least 75-percent of college football — would want behind center. The Tigers’ most glaring void for 2019 is — was — at quarterback. Now Bryant’s addition gives them a competent, experienced, well-known name at the position. It allows Derek Dooley to re-tool his offense should he chose, focusing on Bryant and a trio of running backs that could be among the best in the nation for 2019.
It comes at the most opportune time, too, as Missouri’s schedule opens up next season after playing the nation’s toughest in 2018. The Tigers face none of the powers in the SEC West; after a road game against Wyoming to start the season, they play five consecutive home games with a bye week thrown in. The toughest games of the year come in a three-game stretch during the back-half: at Kentucky, at Georgia, home vs. Florida.
Every other team, including a Will Grier-less West Virginia squad, has major question marks.
Missouri was two snaps away from going 10-2 this season. Kelly Bryant doesn’t necessarily mean Missouri should suddenly be guaranteed ten wins, but it puts them back in that ballpark.
But Bryant’s impact should be even bigger in immediate recruiting circles. Missouri went out and beat out Auburn, equally desperate for a quarterback. Kelly Bryant, who did not rush into this decision and just visited Auburn, compared the two schools — and picked Missouri as the more attractive option (for one year, I certainly agree with that evaluation).
It beat a handful of other teams that were, at one time or another, considered more logical fits for Bryant.
Barry Odom got the biggest recruiting win of his career, and more recruits will almost assuredly notice. Sure, Kelly Bryant will be at Missouri for just one year.
His addition, however, should cause others to at the very least consider the Tigers going forward in the near term. If Odom and his staff can close those deals like they did with Bryant, the impact of this win will be seen over the next few years.