Ex-Clemson star Kelly Bryant takes over at QB for Missouri


COLUMBIA, Mo. - Barry Odom never seems stressed about the future, whether the Missouri coach is pondering tough sanctions handed down by the NCAA over a recruiting scandal or the fact that one of the most prolific passers in school history is now in the NFL.

When it comes to the punishments, Odom knew that outside of an appeal there was little he could do.

When it came to the quarterback situation, he knew Kelly Bryant was in the fold.

The graduate transfer from Clemson is expected to seamlessly take over for Drew Lock under center this season. Bryant backed up Deshaun Watson for two seasons with the Tigers, then led them to the 2017 national championship game before losing his job to Trevor Lawrence after four games last season.

His saving grace was a change to NCAA guidelines that allowed Bryant, who started four games as a senior, to retain a full year of eligibility. And he decided that year would be spent in Columbia.

"The ceiling is high for this group," Bryant insisted. "We just have to take it one day at a time. Don't try to look forward to the season and focus on the right now and what's going on right now."

Still, the responsibility Bryant inherited is a massive one.

Lock started 46 games over the course of four seasons, throwing for 12,193 yards and 99 touchdowns while leading the Tigers to bowl games each of the past two years. The only quarterback to throw for more yards and touchdowns at Missouri is Chase Daniel, who has gone on to a long NFL career.

Odom is confident Bryant has the same ability. The only question was whether Missouri could land his commitment when Auburn, Arkansas, Miami and other schools entered the mix.

"When Kelly stepped on campus for his official visit, I saw interaction between him and our team in the locker room. It was a natural fit," Odom said. "He's a very selfless person, low, low ego. And one of the best competitors that I have ever been around."

Bryant also is loyal. He never wavered on his decision, even when the NCAA banned Missouri from the postseason following allegations by a tutor of providing players impermissible help.

The school has been hopeful that an appeal will effectively overturn most of the sanctions.

"The way that the course goes, we'll find out and come to closure with it one way or the other in the near future," Odom said, "and the way I handle that with my team will be just like I have with everything else: very direct, open and honest in where we're going, what the opportunities are and how we're going to move past it."