This morning, it became official: Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant is transferring, after losing his starting job to freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence.
The decision comes down as the team prepares to face 4-0 Syracuse, the team which handed Clemson its only regular season loss last year.
It wasn't a decision made because Bryant has played poorly. He's completing two-thirds of his passes, for over eight yards an attempt, and Clemson is undefeated. When the Tigers needed to win the game against Texas A&M, head coach Dabo Swinney leaned on the veteran, who took the team to the College Football Playoff last season, to do so.
Today, after the switch, Kelly Bryant spoke to Manie Robinson of The Greenville News, and said that the choice felt like "a slap in the face."
“They asked me how I felt about it,” Bryant said, recalling his meeting with Swinney. “I was like, ‘I’m not discrediting Trevor. He’s doing everything asked of him, but on my side of it, I feel like I haven’t done anything to not be the starter. I’ve been here. I’ve waited my turn. I’ve done everything y’all have asked me to do, plus more.’
“I’ve never been a distraction. I’ve never been in trouble with anything. To me, it was kind of a slap in the face.”
Since the decision came down, Kelly Bryant transfer speculation has dominated the day.
Earlier today, Paul Finebaum said that he doesn't think Bryant will land with a high-level Power Five team, and that most programs will be waiting on Alabama's Jalen Hurts, who appears to be sticking it out in Tuscaloosa for the rest of the year.
One Wisconsin writer, Tanner Nestle of BadgerofHonor, offered the Badgers as a fit for Bryant, citing the previous transfer of Russell Wilson, which obviously elevated his profile after three years at NC State. He would have to beat out a senior Alex Hornibrook who will be in his fourth year of action for the team.
NFL free agent Dez Bryant (no relation) has thrown his support behind his alma mater Oklahoma State, which is no real surprise.
Now, Bleacher Report has put in five schools that could be a fit for Kelly Bryant. The most logical choice, according to writer Kerry Miller, is another ACC Atlantic program: NC State.
The Wolfpack lose starter Ryan Finley, one of the ACC's best quarterbacks, after this year. Florida State transfer Bailey Hockman is probably the favorite to take over right now, and Dave Doeren has a long history of success with transfer quarterbacks.
With that looming as NC State's QB situation, it would be nothing short of reckless to not at least give Bryant a call.
And heaven knows Doeren loves his transfer quarterbacks with experience. Finley originally played at Boise State before transferring to Raleigh. Before Finley, Doeren got two solid years out of Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett. (Finley doesn't run much, but Brissett is proof that Doeren can work well with a mobile QB.) And the year before Brissett—Doeren's first with the Wolfpack—Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas got the lion's share of the snaps at signal-caller.
NC State is followed by the FAU Owls, led by Lane Kiffin, a common name for any quarterback looking to switch schools. Former Oklahoma back-up Chris Robison is off to an up-and-down start in his first year under center for the Owls.
After that, Miller lists Penn State, Syracuse, and Ole Miss. All three lose star senior quarterbacks at the end of the season, in Trace McSorley, Eric Dungey, and Jordan Ta'amu. PSU and Syracuse both have expected starters for 2019, and don't seem like super likely destinations but Bryant should be a pretty hot commodity for plenty of schools with a big quarterback gap next fall.