Kelly Bryant led Clemson to the ACC championship and its third straight College Football Playoff appearance in 2017. But when he left the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on New Year's Day in 2018, his status as the starting quarterback of the Tigers was in doubt.
His top-ranked Tigers managed just 188 yards of total offense in a 24-6 loss to No. 4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl national semifinal, and Bryant tossed two game-changing picks in the third quarter that allowed the Crimson Tide to pull away.
With a loaded quarterback room that features former 247Sports composite 5-star prospects Hunter Johnson (sophomore) and Trevor Lawrence (true freshman early enrollee), and 3-star signal-caller Chase Brice (redshirt freshman).
Bryant isn't fazed.
"Everybody wants to talk about everything else that's coming in, but me, I just go back to work and I just let everybody else do the talking," Bryant said, according to Matt Connolly of The State. "Everybody wants to write me off but I'm still here and I ain't going nowhere."
The rising senior completed 65.8 percent of his passes (262-for-398) for 2,802 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions a year ago, and added 665 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. It was his first season as the starting quarterback for the Tigers, after Deshaun Watson piloted the program to its first two College Football Playoff appearances.
"Oh man, I love it. Tell them to keep questioning," Bryant said of his doubters, according to Connolly.
According to a release from the school, all four quarterbacks threw touchdown passes during Wednesday's scrimmage -- the second of the spring for coach Dabo Swinney's squad. Bryant threw a total of four on the day, including two in the red zone.
"The quarterbacks all made some big plays, but we took too many sacks," Swinney said. "We have to get rid of the ball in some of those situations. Overall I was please with all four quarterbacks."
Bryant certainly has the confidence that he will fend off the challenge of the hot shot youngsters during spring practice and fall camp. If he continues to find the end zone, it will be hard for any of the contenders to leapfrog past him considering he has the one thing that the other three lack -- experience.
Clemson opens the 2018 season at home on Sept. 1 vs. Furman and travels to Texas A&M in Week 2 to take on first-year coach Jimbo Fisher's Aggies.