Nov. 18, 2006
Playing for the Florida State football team is more than junior cornerback J.R. Bryant could have ever wished for.
In fact, growing up, Bryant never thought of football as being in his future. Bryant has his grandmother to thank for that.
“When I was little, my grandmother told me to just go out there and play,” Bryant said. “It turns out I started to get good at football, and I was out there every day.”
Born and raised in the football hotbed of southern Florida, Bryant became a product of his environment.
“Growing up in Miami was fun, exciting and full of competition,” Bryant said. “Football is what we live for down there. Everybody I knew down there loved football.”
Although Bryant spent most of his time playing football on the streets with his friends, he never considered the game as a way to earn a college education. Like most kids his age, Bryant never really took anything too seriously. Though he and his friends were always active and having fun, football just happened to be that source of fun.
“That’s all we did. We played football all the time,” Bryant said.
Bryant may have loved football, but he lived by the church. If Bryant took anything seriously, it was the teachings of the church.
“Church was my main influence growing up,” Bryant said. “My dad used to make us go to church. Not just on Sundays, but all throughout the weekend. Church influenced the decisions I made. Everybody knows right from wrong; church gave me a conscience and made me want to do right.”
During his first year at Miami Senior Killian High School, Bryant was your typical student. He liked to have fun, he didn’t really have plans for the future, and he spent his Friday nights hanging out with his friends.
That all began to change once Bryant stepped on to the football field.
With blazing speed, keen awareness and an uncanny ability with the ball, Bryant’s name became known not only in Miami, but he also began to be noticed by many of the football powerhouse schools throughout the country. Bryant had no idea his game had left such an impact on college coaches and recruiters. His goal every Friday night was to do his job and help the team win.
Apparently, to Bryant’s surprise, he was doing a superb job at not only helping his team, but helping himself.
“I never knew the potential I had in football until I received my first scholarship offer,” Bryant said. “I knew I could play, but I really didn’t know I could go to college on a football scholarship. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. With all the talent in Miami, I didn’t really think of myself as a standout.”
At the end of his senior football campaign at Killian, Bryant had a decision to make. He had to choose between hometown school — Miami — or Florida State.
“Miami has a great program, but I felt a good vibe when I came here on my visit,” Bryant said. “If you come from Florida State, that’s something to be proud of, something everybody is proud to say.”
Bryant could not be happier playing for Bobby Bowden, the winningest coach in major college football history. With the legacy Coach Bowden has built up at Florida State, Bryant is making the most of his opportunity and helping uphold the Seminole football tradition.
“Playing for Coach Bowden is something you dream of when you are growing up in the state of Florida,” Bryant said. “To be able to learn from him is an amazing part of my education at Florida State. I am going to learn as much as I can from Coach Bowden and this staff during the rest of my career and be a
better person when I earn my degree.”
There will then be two things Bryant has to thank his grandmother for — playing football and
earning his degree at Florida State University.
By Dustin Ellis Florida State Sports Information