Former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant made his way to Chapel Hill for the Virginia Tech game, where he got a better feel for how he might be able to help the Tar Heels in 2019.
What he saw – UNC starting a true freshman quarterback who got injured, and an intense struggle to find the end zone – should give Bryant confident that he could come to Chapel Hill and step into the starting lineup for his final year of eligibility.
After four years at Clemson, Bryant has turned back into what he was in high school – a prized recruit. He is being courted by multiple Power 5 programs, but there’s a couple that are starting to particularly stand out.
One less competitor at UNC?
Bryant would be a good fit at UNC for multiple reasons. There is growing sentiment around Chapel Hill that Chazz Surratt may not be returning next season.
things couldn’t have gone much worse for Surratt at North Carolina over the past two years. A disappointing redshirt freshman season in 2017, the Shoegate scandal, one dreadful appearance at Miami and a season-ending wrist injury this fall were the lowlights. A change of scenery may be best for everyone involved.
The dynamic with Larry Fedora and his status as head coach throws a potential wrinkle into the situation. While Bryant is familiar with running an offense similar to UNC’s, he can’t know at this point what the future holds, given Fedora’s uncertain status.
Bryant would be the favorite to start in the spring of 2019, no matter who UNC’s head coach is. He’s a multi-year starter at Clemson who led the Tigers to the College Football Playoff. He’s significantly more talented than any current UNC quarterback, including fourth-year junior Nathan Elliott and true freshmen Cade Fortin and Jace Ruder.
In a scenario where Bryant chooses UNC and Larry Fedora gets fired, there’s a possibility that Elliott could graduate and transfer. A new head coach won’t feel any loyalty to a quarterback who struggled to win games under a prior coach. If Fedora returns, Bryant would still have an excellent chance of earning UNC’s starting job.
Other schools in the hunt
If anyone can pull Bryant away from UNC, it will be Arkansas. The Razorbacks are coached by Chad Morris, who recruited Bryant to Clemson, and has stayed in touch. Bryant makes his way to Fayetteville Oct. 20 for a visit to see the Razorbacks take on Tulsa.
In a recent interview, Bryant indicated his fondness for Morris, who was honest with Bryant in saying that he’d eventually be leaving Clemson for a head coaching job. Morris first went to SMU, then to Arkansas.
The personal relationship between Morris and Bryant, combined with Larry Fedora’s hot seat, gives the Tar Heels some disadvantages. Proximity, familiarity with the ACC, and the chance to step in and play are the advantages for UNC in its recruitment of Bryant.
Like UNC, the Razorbacks have an unsettled quarterback situation, and Bryant would be positioned well to come in from day one and challenge for the starting job. Ty Storey suffered a head injury against Ole Miss and is day-to-day.
For those Tar Heel fans hoping that Bryant can come to Chapel Hill and be a potential savior next season, their best hope is that his visit to Arkansas doesn’t measure up to his recent trip to UNC.