Not first rounders, but Swinney says Bryant, Breeland ready for success

Coach says NFL teams will get 'outstanding young players'

Orange Bowl - Clemson's Bashaud Breeland knocks the ball loose from Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller in the fourth quarter

Photo by Mark Crammer

Orange Bowl - Clemson's Bashaud Breeland knocks the ball loose from Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller in the fourth quarter

Martavis Bryant and Bashauad Breeland are headed to the NFL, opting against Dabo Swinney's advice that underclassmen should stay in school unless they're projected as first-round draft picks.

But that doesn't mean Swinney thinks the pair will be anything less than successful pros.

Following in the footsteps of former Tiger cornerbacks Coty Sensabaugh and Byron Maxwell, Breeland will try to carve out his NFL niche as a likely mid-round draft pick.

After developing for four seasons at Clemson, Swinney believes Breeland has the skills and maturity to make it at the next level.

“I’m so proud of that guy,” Swinney said. “He was a great freshman for us, really really struggled as a sophomore on and off the field, and man, (this year) he was incredibly consistent and played with great confidence. He really became a leader for us this year on that back end, and quietly had a great year.

“I’m excited for him. It’s what he feels like he needs to do. He’ll be drafted as high as he possibly can and he'll maximize that opportunity.”

Likewise, Swinney says some NFL team will get “an outstanding young player” in Bryant.

“I think we all know Martavis is going through a little bit of a transformation,” Swinney said. “I’m really proud of him. Since last January, I have not had one issue with him. Not one.

“When we got back from the Chick-fil-A Bowl, he was waiting on me in my office, because I really didn’t even want him back. He sat in there and we had a great conversation. The best thing that happened to him was having to sit at home. He committed. For the first time, he really made a great commitment. And it was consistent.

“All spring, all summer, the offseason, through fall camp, the whole deal. Because he knew he had the ability to really be a special player. It was great to see him have a great year this year.”

Swinney knows that losing underclassmen to the NFL has become a part of the landscape for successful college programs.

“I think anytime you have guys being drafted out of your program - just go in my office and look on that wall of those guys who made an NFL team since we’ve been in place here - it’s pretty impressive,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. Guys are sticking because they’re leaving here prepared and ready not just for football, but with a lot of tools to help them make it.”

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