Bryant grew up in Miami, before enrolling at the University of Kentucky to play offensive tackle for Fran Curci. As a senior, he was instrumental in UK’s 8-4 season, which earned them a share of the SEC Championship, after a set of court battles deemed Mississippi State’s win over Kentucky void due to an ineligible player, giving the Wildcats a 5-1 SEC record, good for a tie with Georgia. The team finished the year with a 21-0 victory over No. 19 North Carolina in the Peach Bowl, finishing No. 18 in the AP and No. 19 in the Coaches Poll at year’s end.
Bryant was one of two first-round NFL Draft picks from that team, along with wide receiver Randy Burke. He went No. 6 overall, to the Atlanta Falcons, where he played seven of his eight NFL seasons. He earned All-Rookie honors in his first season, and in 1978, helped the Falcons to their first-ever playoff berth. He finished his career with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1984.
Bryant passed away in Smyrna, Ga. So far, a cause of death has not been disclosed publicly.
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) October 19, 2021
Bryant had a quality NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons, but it was preempted by an all-time great college career. He was a first-team All-America selection by the AFCA and Walter Camp Foundation, the winner of the SEC’s Jacobs Award for best blocker, and a three-year first-team All-SEC player. His jersey has been retired by Kentucky and is a member of the UK Athletics’ Hall of Fame, and he’s in the state’s Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Curci, his college coach, said that signing Warren Bryant had a huge impact on the program. From Kentucky’s release on the former Wildcat star’s death:
“Warren was the first big recruit we got. After we got Warren, everybody else fell in behind him. Everyone respected Warren – he was sensational as a player and also a gentleman, fun to be around.”
Bryant graduated from Kentucky with a degree in Special Education, which he used for his post-football career. “I enjoyed my years in the NFL, but my passion was working with the disabled,” he said, per a quote in his obituary shared by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.