CLEMSON — For the last 10 weeks, while Clemson's No. 2 football team built its case for a fourth straight College Football Playoff berth, Kelly Bryant was shopping around the landscape of the sport, looking for his next home as a graduate transfer on the market.
On Tuesday night, the former Clemson quarterback — and a hot commodity on the recruiting trail — came to a decision. Bryant is officially heading to Missouri to play for the Tigers and coach Barry Odom, he announced in a self-narrated video posted to his Twitter account. Leaving the ACC, he now heads to the SEC hoping he can play his best football in his final year of eligibility to impress NFL personnel.
He will enroll in January and hit the ground running with his new teammates in spring ball, which typically begins anywhere between late February and early March.
To announce his decision, Bryant chose to narrate the poem "Test of a Man" by Author Unknown.
Now, his new chapter is set to begin.
"I love Kelly," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said when the Bryant-Clemson breakup was in its early stages in September after Bryant was benched in favor of freshman Trevor Lawrence.
"There's not a better leader. This guy, he is the epitome of what you want. He's what you want your son to be like. I love him like a son."
To understand Bryant's journey to this point, you first have to understand how he got here, which dates back to his high school days.
A native of Calhoun Falls, about an hour away from Clemson, Bryant grew up a Clemson fan and has a fond memory of his dad surprising him with Clemson-Florida State tickets for a Labor Day Weekend outing when Bryant was in middle school. Years later, when Clemson recruited Bryant, the staff was up front about playing time and Bryant knew by committing to Clemson he could have to wait behind star Deshaun Watson.
Still, he liked the pitch now-Arkansas coach Chad Morris gave him, and he mastered patience. Once the job came open after Clemson's 2016 national championship season, not only did Bryant win it outright, but he marched the Tigers right back into the College Football Playoff as a No. 1 seed.
Lawrence's January arrival complicated Bryant's status as the starter and despite Bryant winning the job out of fall camp, Clemson announced Lawrence would start in Week 5.
Days later, Bryant ultimately decided he would transfer. Swinney offered him the chance to stay on Clemson's team as a practice-squad-only member so he could maintain his redshirt status, but Bryant declined. He ultimately broke it off with his former head coach via a text message.
Bryant was 36 of 54 passing this season with 461 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. His most lethal weapons are his legs — he rushed for more yards and touchdowns in his four games this season than Lawrence has in 12. Bryant had 30 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
Missouri seems like a solid fit for Bryant, who has taken this time away from Clemson to work with his private quarterbacks coach Ramon Robinson and feel out his options. Arkansas and Auburn were also contenders, as was North Carolina early. But with Missouri, Bryant can head to a program on the rise in a division of the SEC that is essentially wide open behind Georgia. Quarterback Drew Lock is running the show now, but who was going to replace him next season was still a question mark that left the door open for Bryant, who already is tested at the highest level and has proven he can win.
In his video, some of Bryant's Clemson highlights are playing and he is seen both running and diving into the end zone.
"The test of a man is the fight that he makes, the grit that he daily shows," Bryant narrated with the poem. "The way he stands upon his feet and takes life's numerous bumps and blows."
Now it’s time for Mizzou. On to the next chapter.