Bryant’s de­ci­sion shouldn’t be a sur­prise to Arkansas fans

El Dorado News-Times - - Sports - (Nate Allen cov­ers the Ra­zor­backs for the NewsTimes.) NATE ALLEN

FAYETTEVILLE - A gen­tle re­minder to any Arkansas Ra­zor­backs fans de­jected about “los­ing” Kelly Bryant.

You can’t lose you what you never had.

Bryant, the for­mer Clem­son start­ing quar­ter­back dis­lodged by fresh­man phe­nom Trevor Lawrence, vis­ited four SEC schools, Arkansas, Mis­souri, Auburn, Mis­sis­sippi State and one Clem­son ACC ri­val, North Carolina, dur­ing his about to trans­fer tour. As a Clem­son grad­u­ate with­draw­ing from the team af­ter play­ing the max­i­mum four games al­lowed for a red­shirt sea­son re­tain­ing 2018 el­i­gi­bil­ity sta­tus for 2019, Bryant is el­i­gi­ble to be a grad­u­ate trans­fer at se­mes­ter with one sea­son’s el­i­gi­bil­ity for 2019. Bryant chose Mis­souri Tues­day night.

Given 8-4 Lib­erty Bowl bound Mis­souri closed the SEC shel­lack­ing the 2-10 Ra­zor­backs 38-0 while five times sack­ing Arkansas quar­ter­backs the Fri­day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing in Columbia, Mo., it hardly seems a sur­prise that Bryant swapped his Tigers stripes from Clem­son to Miz­zou rather than join the Ra­zor­backs.

North Carolina has made a head coach­ing change since Bryant started in Chapel Hill, N.C., his check­ing out other pas­tures tour. De­spite a con­tract pay­ing gazil­lions, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn ap­pears un­der siege by dis­grun­tled Auburn alums hav­ing just lost his of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Chip Lind­sey, to usu­ally foot­ball strug­gling Kansas.

Nowhere among the five schools he vis­ited was Bryant go­ing to find the over­all of­fen­sive per­son­nel and de­fense to com­ple­ment like he had quar­ter­back­ing Clem­son in 2017 to a 12-2 ACC cham­pi­onship sea­son and Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off semi­fi­nal loss in the Sugar Bowl to even­tual na­tional cham­pion Alabama, or play­ing in this sea­son’s first four games for a 13-0 na­tion­ally No. 2 Clem­son team set to play third-ranked Notre Dame in a Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off semi­fi­nal at the Cot­ton Bowl.

So if it came down to Arkansas and Miz­zou, based on that 38-0 out­come in Columbia and Arkansas grad­u­at­ing its lone All-SEC of­fen­sive player, left guard Hjalte Fro­holdt, plus grad­u­at­ing start­ing guard Johnny Gib­son and right tackle Brian Wal­lace from its oth­er­wise be­lea­guered line, it’s pretty cut and dried sim­ple why Bryant isn’t com­ing to Fayetteville.

Un­til or un­less Arkansas coach Chad Mor­ris can res­ur­rect this formerly proud Ra­zor­backs pro­gram from the 2-10, 0-8 in the SEC cam­paign he coached in 2018 off the 4-7, 1-7 in the SEC de­cline of Bret Bielema’s fi­nal Arkansas sea­son in 2017, a quar­ter­back in Bryant’s cov­eted shoes isn’t apt to choose Arkansas.

That his re­la­tion­ship with Mor­ris, the for­mer Clem­son of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor first re­cruit­ing Bryant to coach

Dabo Sweeney’s Clem­son Tigers, speaks well of Arkansas’ coach.

That it couldn’t speak con­vinc­ingly enough for Bryant to choose Arkansas is no sur­prise given Bryant’s 38-0 head-to­head com­par­i­son of Arkansas ver­sus Miz­zou. Re­gard­less if Bryant had come, Mor­ris and of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor/quar­ter­backs coach Joe Crad­dock still were go­ing to coach and de­velop who­ever took quar­ter­back snaps this spring.

It will be a wide open com­pe­ti­tion, but that goes for all po­si­tions both sides of the ball, Mor­ris as­serts.

“When you go 2-10,” Mor­ris said, “there is no­body who has a per­ma­nent po­si­tion.”

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