For the second year in row it seems the Wren football team hit the jackpot in the transfer lottery.
First, standout nose tackle D.J. Jones came to Piedmont from Carolina Academy last year to play an All-American-caliber senior season. And, now, Hurricanes coach Jeff Tate confirmed Abbeville standout quarterback Kelly Bryant, who is a target of plenty of major Division I programs, will play out the final two years of his prep career in Wren’s spread attack.
Tate received the rising junior’s paperwork Monday that states Bryant will live with his legal guardian in the Wren school district, which could allow Bryant to play right away rather than sit out a season. With the South Carolina High School League office closed this week, Tate will send in the necessary documents Monday.
Tate admitted he didn’t know too much about Bryant, who has offers from Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina State and Georgia Tech among other schools, other than catching Abbeville highlights on the 11 p.m. Friday newscasts.
Bryant led the Panthers to the second of their back-to-back Class A state titles in 2011 and took them to the Class 2A, Division II title game last season.
“Some of our guys already knew him from training areas and from seeing him at some of the combines and stuff,” Tate said. “Jacob Clary, who is our starting quarterback, said he is a first-rate guy. He said he is some kind of athlete and an even better person. When you hear your senior quarterback make that statement about a guy that plays the same position he does that says a lot about him.”
At Wren, Bryant has the opportunity to be a part of a prolific spread passing attack as opposed to Abbeville’s vaunted A-Bone run-heavy system. Having the chance to showcase his arm may allow him to get a few looks from schools as a quarterback rather than living with the “athlete” tag most interested programs have placed upon him.
Tate has lost players and gained players as a result of transfers over the years, but, as of late, he seems to be on a roll.
“If I was in (Abbeville’s) shoes I would feel pretty devastated to lose a character kid like this with the type of athlete he is. I can only imagine how they feel,” Tate said. “For me, I’m elated to have an athlete enrolled in our school district who, first of all, is a quality kid. Secondly, who wants to be involved in our program.”
Despite missing the first four games of last season with an AC joint sprain, Bryant rushed for 587 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 342 yards.
With a year already under his belt, Clary may have the inside track as the starting signal caller. Last season he threw for 2,291 yards and 18 touchdowns against 14 interceptions during Wren’s 8-3 2012 campaign where it finished second in Region 1-3A and lost to Class 3A runner-up Union County in the first round of the state playoffs.
Wren lost running back Levi Bufford and the majority of its experienced receiving core last season to graduation, making the Bryant pickup even more significant. Despite it being early in the process, Tate hinted both Clary and Bryant could be on the field at the same time.
“You’ve got one football and you’ve got to make people wonder where it’s going to be and what you’re going to do with it,” Tate said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be difficult to get those guys on the field. It’s our job to get the best athletes the ball whether it’s running, catching or throwing. That’s really what offense is about, getting the right matchups and getting guys in a position where they have a chance to be successful. We’ll see as time goes by.”
The Hurricanes could gain some clarity in its four remaining 7-on-7 passing camps at Newberry, Wake Forest, Wren and the University of North Carolina over the next month before fall camp begins Aug. 2.