Clemson WR Bryant changes focus, attitude

April, 5, 2013
4/05/13
2:00
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CLEMSON, S.C. -- The talent has never been a question. Not for Clemson receiver Martavis Bryant.

He stands 6-foot-5, and weights 200 pounds, with great speed and an incredible ability to make plays. All you need to do is check out his yards-per-catch average from 2012: It's a ridiculous 30.5. Of his 10 receptions a season ago, four went for touchdowns.

The maturity? Well, that has been the biggest question, one that has kept him from becoming the breakout receiver most anticipated he would be as one of the top prospects out of high school. By his own admission, Bryant lacked focus, discipline and a proper work ethic.

He slacked off in practice. He slacked off in the classroom. Coach Dabo Swinney warned him to get his act together.

[+] EnlargeMartavis Bryant
AP Photo/Rainier EhrhardtMartavis Bryant averaged 30.5 yards per catch in 2012, but didn't have the same success in class.
Bryant ignored him.

Until last December, when Swinney suspended him for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Bryant was forced to watch from home, but more than that, he was forced to be honest with himself for perhaps the first time since arriving at Clemson. He had to change. He had to adjust his attitude and his focus. Or he would no longer have football.

"I was disappointed in myself, and I was disappointed in the fact that I let my team down, I let my coaches down," Bryant said. "I had a long time to think about it, about what I wanted to do and I changed everything around."

He had one more bit of inspiration: two young daughters.

"I can't have them looking back when they get older and saying that I didn't accomplish anything when I had my chance," he said.

So when he returned to school in January, Bryant was a changed man. Before, he was a loner with few friends on the team. He had a tough time trusting people. Now, he talks to all his teammates, and knows more about them. Though he is extremely quiet, he is being more vocal around them. For Bryant, that is a huge step.

Even bigger? He has not missed a class. He has not missed a study hall. In fact, he arrived for this interview 10 minutes early, something he would not have done in the past.

And he has shown up every day in practice, knowing he has a huge opportunity ahead of him in 2013, his junior season, with DeAndre Hopkins gone. In three months' time, Bryant has transformed himself. And the best part of all? He jokes: not getting text messages from Swinney keeping tabs on him.

"I know I'm on thin ice, that's why I don't get in any more trouble," Bryant said. "I just do what I'm supposed to do."

Swinney has noticed, speaking glowingly about Bryant during the spring. But this is only a start. Three months needs to turn into six months, and into 12 months.

Then, the results on the field will follow.

"I just have to keep working in practice and showing how I can do it consistently without messing up," Bryant said. "I'm working on it. I'll be perfect by the time camp comes around."

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