KENNESAW — Tommy Bryant wasn’t expected to be the No. 1 quarterback last season.
The 6-foot-1, 197-pound senior was firmly entrenched as the backup to Daniel David. However, that didn’t mean Bryant didn’t play. He was scheduled to enter every game during the third series, and then get in subsequent series as play went on.
That changed against Campbell when David injured his shoulder. Bryant became the starter, and with the help of the playing time he had received on a consistent basis, the offense did not miss a beat. In fact, it seemed to energize the team going forward.
The Tuscaloosa, Ala. native led the Owls to a come-from-behind victory at Campbell, and then went 3-0 as a starter before getting injured against Wofford in the opening round of the FCS playoffs. Against the Camels, he accounted for five touchdowns. Bryant added four more against Gardner-Webb. For the season, he finished with 666 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. He also threw for 474 yards and seven touchdowns against only one interception.
KSU finished the season 11-3. Now, as they prepare for the fall, the team has the added incentive of trying to reclaim the Big South championship.
Owls coach Brian Bohannon said the experience Bryant earned as the starter late last season will be a big benefit not only to him but to the program as the 2020 season unfolds.
“I don’t think you can replace that kind of experience,” Bohannon said. “He’s always played meaningful snaps. He wasn’t coming in just at the end of games, but you can’t simulate those kinds of reps.”
Bohannon said Bryant is attacking spring like he does every other practice, and he is continuing to see improvement, but Bryant said he is treating these sessions like he is still the backup. He wants to make sure he is earning every snap he gets.
“I take everyday like I’m not No. 1,” Bryant said. “There is still a lot of work to do, but things are going good. I’m excited.”
One thing he said he is definitely working on is his diet. The KSU nutritionists are trying to get him up to his target weight of 205 pounds. Bryant said the coaching staff definitely wants him to be at least 200 pounds during the season so he can absorb the hits that an Owls quarterback is expected to take.
“My main focus is durability,” he said. “So I’ve got to get my eating routine more consistent.
“I’ve been chasing 205. Right now I’m 197. I’ve started eating more Tuna and things that are going to be beneficial to me going forward.”
Bryant found out how quick a player can lose a starting spot.
After getting hurt early against Wofford in the playoffs, Jonathan Murphy came in and ran for 206 yards and three touchdowns. While Bryant made the trip to Weber State for the second round, and may have been able to play in an emergency role, Murphy started and nearly led KSU to an upset.
It’s a situation Bryant would rather not have happen again.
“Getting those starts last season raised my game up,” he said. “So far this spring, everything’s been great.”