The signs were there and now the news is official. Clemson senior quarterback Kelly Bryant will transfer after being benched in favor of freshman Trevor Lawrence. The starter of 18 games told the Greenville News of his intentions.
"I feel like it's what's best for me and my future," Bryant said in the interview. "I was just going to control what I could control and try to make the most of my opportunity, but at the end of the day, I just don't feel like I've gotten a fair shot."
Speaking on the ACC coaches' teleconference, Swinney said he was "saddened and disappointed" by Bryant's departure.
Bryant and Swinney met this past Sunday following the Tigers' 49-21 win in which Lawrence came off the bench and threw for 176 yards and four touchdowns. During that meeting, Swinney informed Bryant that Lawrence would be the starter moving forward. Bryant haswhile he took in the news and decided upon his future.
"They asked me how I felt about it," Bryant said. "I was like, 'I'm not discrediting Trevor. He's doing everything asked of him, but on my side of it, I feel like I haven't done anything to not be the starter. I've been here. I've waited my turn. I've done everything y'all have asked me to do, plus more.'
"I've never been a distraction. I've never been in trouble with anything. To me, it was kind of a slap in the face."
Bryant has been a part of an ACC championship-winning team and has a College Football Playoff appearance. He's a fourth-year player who knows the offense well. However, it's been clear in the pair splitting time that Lawrence has moved the ball better. The Greenville News notes that Bryant has led eight scoring drives with four touchdowns accounted for while Lawrence has 15 scoring drives with nine touchdowns.
With the NCAA's new redshirt rule, Bryant would have to transfer now as to keep his final year of eligibility. If he plays against Syracuse (or anyone else afterward), his career would be over. According to Swinney, he offered to keep Bryant on the roster, but not play him.
Instead, Clemson's QB depth chart is fairly thin behind Lawrence. Freshmen Chase Brice and Ben Batson are the only other quarterbacks available with Brice being the only one to see action. He's 5-of-8 for 37 yards and an interception in limited action this season. Hunter Johnson transferred to Northwestern this offseason.
With Jalen Hurtsin spite of a similar situation (at least for the time being), Bryant might be the hottest quarterback transfer on the market in the upcoming offseason. Bryant had more than 3,400 yards of total offense and 24 touchdowns a season ago.