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Kelly Bryant: Learning from the best

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

When true freshman Kelly Bryant entered Clemson last spring he knew he would have a chance to learn behind one of the best in the nation.

The Wren High School product came to Clemson as the No. 11 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation according to ESPN, and the No. 4 player in the state by rivals. Even with those accolades he knew it would not be easy to step in behind Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson, returning back-up Nick Schuessler and his true freshman counter-part Tucker Israel.

Now, seven weeks into the season and after a dynamic game against Miami, Bryant has made a move on Schuessler entering this week as the co-second team quarterback. Having made the move Bryant says he doesn't see any difference in the way that things have been in previous weeks.

"I think it's how it's been the last few weeks. We have been splitting the reps with each other. You know we have each been getting the same amount of reps," Bryant said Tuesday "You know it's been pretty good getting to learn from Deshaun then also getting a feel for how Nick goes about his own preparation. How he goes about practice. So it's been good getting a lot more reps and I'm just trying to take advantage of my reps."

Taking advantage of every rep has paid off for Bryant who has seen the game slow down for him and to heed the advice of a Heisman candidate to just go out and play the game the way he has played since childhood.

"He (Watson) said just go out there and ball. You know, don't think too much about the situations. Just let everything take care of itself...I learned that the game can slow down for you if you relax, enjoy the moment and have fun. To trust the coaches and the teammates out there rather than just thinking."

For Bryant entering in the spring guaranteed him nothing with regards to avoiding a redshirt. However, after an injury in the first day of fall practice sidelined Tucker Israel for a few weeks Bryant saw an opportunity and seized it.

With preparation and humility Bryant keeps things in perspective while making the most of the opportunity to learn the offense.

"I know coming in the spring helped me tremendously. Getting to know the way that the coaches want everything ran," Bryant said. "I know it helped me a lot coming in the spring instead of the summer where it would have been a lot faster trying to get the offense down."

"Coming in you always want to play, but I guess sometimes you have to take that step back and be humble having Deshaun and Nick in front of me it has been a great experience. I really wasn't too caught up in the redshirt, you know, just leaving it their (the coaches) hands and go out there prepare, and practice and go from there."

For Bryant the learning process is only beginning. The physical gifts are there as he demonstrated last week, scampering for touchdown runs of 59 and 10 yards, however, for Bryant he only just beginning to understand what it takes to be a complete quarterback.

"I think I'm starting to understand what all it takes to be a quarterback. Not just running and throwing, but knowing what the offensive line is doing. How many steps the running backs, or receivers are going to take. Where to go with the ball. Who is my best matchup at receiver? The little things that most people wouldn't think about goes into being a quarterback. Watching more film and the leadership role that comes with all of that."

With Bryant the key to being a successful quarterback may just be in the number four—as in paying attention to Watson.

"I've paid attention to him a lot. You know he is just so smooth with his decision making. It's just something that I pay attention too and try to pick up little tips about how he goes about his business."