Brandon Bryant arrived at Mississippi State last year at 5-foot-10, 187-pounds and running a 4.45 forty.
After a redshirt year, the former Rosa Fort safety had grown nearly two inches, added 23 pounds and trimmed his forty time down to a blazing 4.25, becoming the fastest man on the Bulldogs’ roster.
“Redshirting helped me a whole bunch because when I came here I didn’t know what to expect coming from a small 4A school,” Bryant said. “We didn’t have technology like they have here. I was kind of lost when we started camp so it was a learning curve.”
Due to the turnover and injuries at safety, Bryant received plenty of reps during spring practice. In the team’s three spring scrimmages inside the stadium, the Tunica native made 10 tackles, one for loss and broke up two passes.
“It was a different vibe going out and playing in front of the fans,” Bryant said. “The stadium is so big. I just looked around and said this is a dream come true and I’m going to go out there and take it.”
Bryant exited the spring as MSU’s second-team safety and is battling for a starting spot in fall camp. He is counting down the days until he returns to the gridiron in a live game.
“I’m very anxious,” Bryant said. “I’ve waited a whole year away from football and that’s like a year away from the woman that you love.”
Bryant attended the same high school as former Bulldogs standout Benardrick McKinney, who was a second round draft pick of the Houston Texans this year.
Like McKinney, Bryant too was the Lions’ quarterback along with a variety of other roles on both sides of the ball. He finished his senior season with 1,492 yards of offense and 14 touchdowns, 29 tackles, one forced fumble, a 91-yard kickoff return for a score and two interceptions – one of which he also returned for a touchdown.
Bryant brought that same workmanlike approach with him to Starkville.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a game or practice, you’ve got to go hard and give relentless effort every play,” Bryant said. “Every time you get on the field you’ve got to think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”
Bryant was originally committed to Southern Miss but dropped his pledge after he receiving an offer from the Bulldogs. He chose MSU two days later and remains delighted with his decision.
“I came to Mississippi State because of the family environment on the team,” Bryant said. “We all stick together and help each other. I’ve just been real happy here. It just had a different feeling than other schools.”
Bryant will have a chance to make his debut against the Golden Eagles in the season opener on Sept. 5.