It all starts with the lobby, nestled into a small area just before the escalator ride to the main floor is the autograph section where a good amount of fans showed up to see and retrieve their favorite players or coaches signature. This isn’t just the starting point for representatives, it’s also a sign to reporters who have gathered in Hoover that the vacations are over, football season is here.
One of the most polarizing figures on day one was Kelly Bryant, the Missouri quarterback, by way of defending national champion Clemson. When Bryant entered his name into the transfer portal, it didn’t take long before his phone starting ringing.
“Right when I put myself in the portal and coaches could contact me, Missouri was the first school that contacted me. It was a crazy process. When I went out there on a visit, I just pretty much fell in love with everything that they had to offer. For me, within that last year, the biggest thing for me was that I have one year to get it right, and I can’t have any slip-ups. They knew it, and they were selling me on how Drew (Lock) had the success he had within the year when he put himself in the position to be where he wanted to be, and at the end of the year, he was a second-round draft pick,” Bryant said.
After going through the motions and hard decisions on where to transfer, he was then forced to realize that there was a very good chance he wouldn’t play in the postseason while at Missouri, after his phone started to ring again while hanging with his teammates.
“It was a weird day. I was in the facility, and all of the sudden, everybody was getting a text message that we were having a team meeting that wasn’t planned. For me, I thought, ‘did someone get fired and they didn’t tell me about it?'”
Nobody was fired, but the message head coach Barry Odom was about to deliver wouldn’t be a pleasant one. “He just laid it out there for us. He was open, he said, ‘if anybody wants to leave, no one is going to look at you any differently. You have the opportunity to stay here as well.’ He said they were going to try to appeal it, and that it is going to be a process.”
Bryant wasn’t going down the recruitment hole again. “Just hearing that, I was like, first and foremost, I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to go through that recruiting process over again, and I already built the relationship in that month or two, with those guys, I was already establishing myself and just working every day. This is where I want to be. I made the decision, so I am not going to turn back on it now.”
Derek Dooley, who’s entering another season as the Missouri offensive coordinator, did his homework on Bryant and knew what to pitch him on, according to Bryant. “Well, the pitch for me coming to Missouri, he saw what I did at Clemson. He loved the things he saw from a passing standpoint and also what I can do with my legs, because I can make plays with my legs and I am able to extend plays. Being where he was with the (Dallas) Cowboys, seeing Dak (Prescott), seeing Tony (Romo), having that experience with them and the Cowboys offense, and bringing it to Missouri, being able to put yourself in the position where he’s going to make plays for you where you’re comfortable.”
It sounds like Dooley is already earning that trust if you listen to Bryant.
“He is not going to call anything where he is comfortable and the quarterback is not comfortable. He is going to cater to you, and just knowing that, I have that in my pocket where I can go into a meeting and say ‘I like this’ or ‘I don’t like this, so let’s do this,’ and he is going to cater to you. That’s just been one of the biggest things that I like about playing for him so far.”
Odom said Monday that “We anticipate that hopefully we get some closure soon,” in regards to the NCAA and the postseason ramifications. But from the way Bryant and Odom were talking today, they’re ready for the 2019 season, no matter what the NCAA says.