For Martavis Bryant, newfound commitment showing up, on and off the field

Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant runs to the end zone after completing a catch in the fourth quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant runs to the end zone after completing a catch in the fourth quarter.

Martavis Bryant's Clemson football career was hanging by a thread.

Having come to an 'enough is enough' conclusion, Dabo Swinney faced a test of his own resolve and leadership.

So last December, Swinney delivered the word: Bryant would not be accompanying the Tigers on their Chick-fil-A Bowl date with LSU.

"Sitting at home, not getting bowl gifts, not getting bowl money, having to watch his team play without him - you'd hope all that would get his attention," Swinney said.

"That's why I did it. If I'd just been worried about beating LSU, I'd have said 'Don't worry about all those study halls you keep missing - come on, I need you, big boy.' Because he's 6-5, can fly and can catch a football.

"But we're much more than that in this program. I'd much rather lose doing it right than to win knowing I'm doing it wrong."

The story has a happy ending.

Clemson beat LSU without Bryant, and the Tigers' rising junior wide receiver has taken his last chance at a new beginning and has run with it.

"I've had nothing on him - January, February, and now we're almost out of March," said Swinney last Wednesday after the Tigers' first-full scale scrimmage, in which Bryant hauled in two touchdown passes. "I mean nothing - not one thing in any area. I'm proud of him. He's never been this consistent in any area. And it's showing up on the field."

Before the suspension, Swinney said that Bryant "wasn't slipping - he had slipped."

"There was one line hanging and he held on and pulled himself up out of the hole," Swinney said. "I give him credit, because he had to do it. I tell these guys all the time that it's never too late to do what's right.

"Martavis isn't a bad guy, not at all. He's just been an immature, uncommitted guy - off the field, academically, in the meeting rooms, on the practice field, in the way he's prepared, not being dependable."

On the field, Bryant has often flashed his ability, but has been inconsistent in his performance.

"Accountability, responsibility, dependability, trust-ability - those are the 'abilities' that matter," said Swinney. "He's got plenty of ability, it's all them other ones that have kept him from being a complete player. He's had some great moments, but he's been inconsistent. When you're not fully committed, you're going to be inconsistent."

Swinney knows that Bryant's turnaround has only begun.

"He manned up, came back, and, to his credit, has done everything he's been asked to do," Swinney said. "But he has zero money in the bank, and he knows that. You can't get any money out of the ATM if you don't put something in there.

"He's got a few nickels in there now. But I want to make the point again that I'm proud of Martavis. And his teammates are proud of him."

Swinney said since committing himself, Bryant's entire demeanor has changed.

"It's just fun to see him smile," Swinney said. "All of a sudden, when you're committed, you start feeling good about yourself. And when you start having success, your confidence grows, and it starts to trickle out into all the other areas.

"I know his mama and his grandmama are proud of him, too. They deserve a lot of credit, because they've really sacrificed for him. And they've challenged him when he's needed it...

"He's got a smile on his face, and I just love his body language and demeanor. That's a good thing for Clemson."

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Comments » 11

MyTwoSENSE writes:

Sounds like what we heard about Bellamy last year. Hope it has a different ending.

brookesdad729 writes:

in response to MyTwoSENSE:

Sounds like what we heard about Bellamy last year. Hope it has a different ending.

I hope so too! One thing I love about Dabo is the fact that he doesn't care that you're the superstar or not! If you're not doing what you're supposed to do, you're getting disciplined, period! He proved that with Sammy. If he had chosen to slap Sammy on the wrist, he may have had a better year and us a better season, but in the long run, it would have killed the team. Same with Martavis; he may have done well in the bowl game, who knows, but team morale would have suffered in the long run. Tough love always wins out!

Big_Cat writes:

I certainly hope he has himself together, and will be a force on the field this season. BUT, if he does not keep it together Clemson has a stacked WR corp. As everyone including Bryant saw, the tigers can win without him.... so Clemson will keep on keepin on either way. I think he wants to contribute and be a part of all that. Its up to him tho

lhaselden writes:

Martavis Bryant has a shot at being a first round pick next year if he works hard and stays healthy. He has the height and speed that the NFL drools over. He has to show he can produce consistently but he will likely do that if he continues to do right.

rsb4728#285989 writes:

It's nice to hear the young man has grown up a great deal. He has a truly brite future, not only at Clemson but after Clemson. Many, many people act the same as Martavius and don't get called out on it. He's lucky to have Dabo and the Clemson family in his corner. I feel sure he will make the most of this and become a tremndous success on the football field as well as off. Good luck to you. Remember, the definition of luck is preparation meeting opportunity. Get real lucky!

SoCalTiger writes:

It's one thing to call him out behind the scenes and give him a chance to fix the problem, but to call a player out in a news article with words like "immature" and "uncommitted" is unnecessary. I never would have known he had these problems and don't see the point of airing it out in public. He's a young college athlete. Why call him out in public? What purpose does it serve for all the know his problems? I'd be embarrassed.

TigerMarine writes:

in response to SoCalTiger:

It's one thing to call him out behind the scenes and give him a chance to fix the problem, but to call a player out in a news article with words like "immature" and "uncommitted" is unnecessary. I never would have known he had these problems and don't see the point of airing it out in public. He's a young college athlete. Why call him out in public? What purpose does it serve for all the know his problems? I'd be embarrassed.

Dabo made those statements as if they were issues in the past that have been overcome in the past few months behind the scenes. Not to mention if he didn't want all his flaws aired out on a public stage he should have skipped collegiate sports.

PtownDawg writes:

SoCalTiger, that why Dabo is doing such a good job. Calls it like it was. Martavious needed it, made the adjustments, and will one day thank Dabo. Telling everyone why is just being a responsible coach. Don't think Dabo is "dising" him just because he told it like it was.....and I mean like it WAS! Everybody's mama always tells the trouble we got into as a kid, bragging about how much we have changed, not "calling us out."

TigerMarine writes:

Ptown said it better ! Ty sir

understand writes:

WOW, it don't take a rocket scientist to figure out this kids was doing all the wrong things. Lets see, went to juco,(didn't do well in the classroom in high school),came to tigertown made great plays but we barely saw him on the field(not fully committed),later suspended(not going to class)I mean did we really need dabo to spell it out for us? No so come on dabo is not the bad guy here, lets continue to hold the player accountable. What he do will speak so loudly

SoCalTiger writes:

I didn't know MB had these issues. I saw what I saw on the field. I thought he didn't play much because the other guys were better receivers. Regardless, I hope airing out MB's flaws from the past in a news article works and I hope he plays well.

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