Note: The following appears in the Syracuse gameday football program
Defensive end Austin Bryant is a small-town guy through and through. The Pavo, Ga., native values family, and that is one of the reasons why Clemson was a perfect fit for the All-American.
“I visited Clemson and fell in love with the place,” said Bryant. “The coaches seemed like really good people. It was a perfect opportunity. I had a chance to play early. It was a great school, and it seemed like the perfect fit with a family feel.”
The family environment that Bryant loved can be traced back to his beginnings in Pavo, a small town in south Georgia. Bryant credited Pavo for making him the man he is today.
“It’s about 50 minutes from the Florida state line. I could throw a rock to Tallahassee. There’s not even a stop light, so you could go right through it and not even know that you’ve been through it. I definitely credit that place for my work ethic and will to be a good person and a good player. I learned some lessons that I’ll never forget. I owe everything I am to Pavo.”
“Pretty much everyone who lives there is my family and related to me. Having all my cousins there, we’d get together every summer and have a blast. I’d annoy them and they’d annoy me. They made me tough because I was always the youngest one trying to hang out with the older kids, and that’s what sticks out the most to me…family. Sometimes family butts heads, but we’re always there for each other.”
It’s not surprising that Bryant would find himself loving Clemson, a small town in its own right, just a different kind of small town. Though Clemson and Pavo are two unique places, Bryant sees some similarities between them.
“I’d definitely say Clemson is a small town like Pavo, just on a different scale. The university is here, but compared to Atlanta or Charlotte or even Tallahassee, Clemson is a small town. Clemson University itself gives you a family vibe that you can’t find anywhere else, and I truly think it comes down to the people we have here. The players, the coaches, the staff, the support staff…it carries throughout the entire university with the professors and the general student population as well.”
The family aspects of small-town living and Clemson University that Bryant values can also be found on the football team. Bryant’s favorite part about being a Tiger is the relationship he shares with his teammates. More specifically, Bryant shares an unbreakable bond with his fellow defensive linemen. Not only do they wreak havoc on opposing offenses on the gridiron, Bryant and his fellow starting defensive linemen (Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins) are as close as can be off the field.
“I don’t even like them that much,” joked Bryant with a huge grin on his face. “We all came in together, except Dexter…he came in a year after us. Those are my brothers, Christian, Clelin and Dexter. We are like peas in a pod. If you see one of us, you usually see at least one more, if not all of us.
“Those are guys who I can lean on through thick and thin. They know everything about me and I know everything about them. We’re brothers. We’ve bonded like no other, and that’s something that is really special…that I have some guys who I’ll always be able to lean on. No matter whether it’s football or life, they’ll be there for me.”
The defensive line even has a nickname for themselves…The Power Rangers. What started as a joke eventually stuck, and they embraced it as a fun and unique identity.
“It actually was Christian’s thing. He started it with the Morph celebration, and then it carried on. It was leading up to Halloween, and they all decided to get Power Ranger outfits. That’s how it started.
“A video was posted online of us sneaking up to coach (Brent) Venables’ house and surprising everyone. It took off from there. Ever since then, people have been egging it on, and we’ve embraced it.”
Bryant revealed that their Power Ranger identities are supposed to be kept secret when asked which one he was, but he did drop a helpful hint.
“If I was a Power Ranger, I’d probably be the red Power Ranger.”
As indicated by the Power Ranger nickname, the defensive linemen share a strong brotherhood, which is Bryant’s favorite aspect of being a part of that defensive line. The defensive linemen spend more time together off the field than they do on the field playing, and according to Bryant, that’s where their chemistry comes from.
Bryant also reflects his family values with his uniform number. He started wearing #7 in high school to honor his grandfather, who passed away in July, the seventh month of the year. When the number became available after his freshman season, he knew he had to make the switch from #91 to #7 to carry on the legacy.
Off the field, he is an avid fisherman and a fan of HGTV, which helped fuel his desire to work in real estate. When Bryant’s Tiger career ends, he would love to play in the NFL, but when his football career ends, he wants to work in real estate in the Clemson area. Until then, Bryant is trying to make the most of his senior season in Death Valley.