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"I feel this is the best decision for me," Bryant said. "It's what God wants me to do. I'm going to start my training Tuesday in Tampa."
Bryant sat out the past five games after Oklahoma State (No. 19 BCS, No. 18 AP) ruled him ineligible for lying to an NCAA investigator looking into Bryant's offseason meeting with former NFL player Deion Sanders.The NCAA decided last week that Bryant should be suspended until September 2010, and the school appealed to the NCAA's Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee. That group announced Thursday that it had rejected Bryant's appeal in a two-paragraph statement that included no explanation. "This year didn't go the way I wanted it to," Bryant said. "It was so hard. And to be honest I had my head down at times. But the NCAA has made their decision. And I respect that. And now I've made mine." An attorney for Bryant said Thursday that the one-year penalty handed down by the NCAA amounted to a "death penalty" for his client's college career. "I don't know that there's much about this type of decision that would help improve a person," Willie Baker, Bryant's attorney, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "I think there are other ways that the NCAA might try to develop -- a different way of administering, if you want to call it punishment or whatever, but in the end it ought to be something that would be helpful to the student." NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an e-mail that members of the committee were not permitted to speak to reporters and that the agency's national office had no comment beyond the statement. A call to Big Ten associate commissioner Carol Iwaoka, the chair of the reinstatement committee, was referred to Osburn. Bryant caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns last season while also scoring twice on punt returns. He was the only one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award left in school this year.
Bryant said he hopes to live up to the NFL production of receivers such as Randy Moss and Anquan Boldin. He is projected as a first-round pick.
"When I talk to the NFL, I'm going to be truthful with them about what happened," Bryant said. "It will be what I'm supposed to tell them, which is the truth."
Bryant said after being suspended for most of his junior season, he just wants to play again.
"I love the game," Bryant said. "I have a passion for the game. Football is what I do. And any NFL team that I play for is going to get great effort."Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.