Brandin Bryant wants to be a novelist.
He has a fiction project in the works, but he won’t divulge the plot line.
Let me guess: It’s the story of an underdog football player.
Maybe he comes from a small college (a place with a fictional name like, oh, Florida Atlantic).
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And he gets passed over by all 32 teams in the NFL draft. But motivated by some deep reservoir of pride and ambition, he beats the odds and sticks with one of the best teams in the NFL.
And the protagonist could be likably unconventional, a scholar-athlete, a Renaissance tackle who likes to pound dents into blockers and running backs, and doesn’t mind getting in a scrap or two on occasion.
Have to say, that story has dramatic narrative drive.
Although, in the case of Bryant, the genre of this story soon might become biography rather than fiction.
Bryant, who is living this scenario, came to the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. A little undersized for the defensive tackle spot at 6-2 and 289 pounds, he nonetheless flashes absurd strength, quickness, and a knack for getting to the ball.
Although the Hawks drafted two other defensive linemen (Jarran Reed and Quinton Jefferson), Bryant is getting a good look because of his unique characteristics.
“He’s a very bright guy and very eager to learn,” defensive line coach Travis Jones said. “He’s excited to fight for a position on this club. I like his personality and the way he goes at it; it’ll be interesting to see how he mixes it up when we get at full speed.”
Bryant isn’t looking too far down the road.
“I’m just trying to improve every day,” Bryant said after a practice last week. “I’m kind of undersized, so I have to be exact, perfect. If you’re not 320 pounds and you’re wrestling with giants all day, everything you do has to be precise.”
The problem with putting a Bryant-based character in a novel is that it would be a little unbelievable that he could be so overlooked.
His pro day bench-press effort of 38 reps of 225 pounds was five more than any defensive linemen invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. And his 4.81 time in the 40 was in the range of 2015 second-round pick Frank Clark (4.79).
“I like to say I got drafted in the eighth round,” Bryant said of the seven-round NFL draft. “I came up here for a predraft visit, and I was hoping to get drafted here.”
Nine teams called Bryant with free-agent offers after the draft, but picking the Seahawks was easy because “I like what they stood for up here. … Free agents make the team here every year.”
There was another reason he thought he could better learn his craft in Seattle: Michael Bennett.
“I’ve been watching films of Mike Bennett for the last 2 ½ years, and Aaron Donald (Rams) and Gerald McCoy (Buccaneers),” Bryant said. “Those are guys I wanted to play like, being an inside pass rusher.”
So, did Bryant tell Bennett all about this?
“No,” Bryant said, laughing. “He doesn’t really let rookies talk to him yet.”
So Bryant watches Bennett, Ahtyba Rubin and Jordan Hill because “those guys are like black belts on the D-line.”
It’s characteristic that Bryant would make a thorough study of his craft. A double major (communications and political science) at Florida Atlantic, Bryant recorded a 4.0 GPA last fall and earned scholar-athlete honors.
The expectation of excellence in all regards is a family legacy. His grandfather, Charles Bryant, was an All-American at Nebraska in the early 1950s, and a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.
“He’s a legend in Omaha,” Brandin Bryant said. “He was a (school) principal, was an art teacher and worked at the church. He was a great man who taught me a lot and instilled positivity in me, and the ambition to be great.”
But how? How to become great?
“He always told me to express myself, and to be well-rounded,” Bryant added. “My dad is the same; he is passionate, and that’s what he taught me to be. Find your passion and follow it.”
At the moment, his passion is finding the football and arriving in a violent manner. It’s been noticed, and it’s earning him playing time.
“I’m a rookie and rookies don’t know much,” Bryant said. “But I knew I could get a shot here.”
Brandin Bryant is a Seahawks prospect you probably don’t know yet. But you will.
He has more chapters to write in Seattle.
Seahawks training camp at a glance
What it was: The seventh practice of Seahawks training camp on Saturday was more of a light walk-through in preparation for Sunday’s scrimmage. The big news was the signing of free agent veteran guard Jahri Evans, a four-time All-Pro who had been cut by New Orleans in February. Evans started 153 games for the Saints, and brings experience to a group that had precious little. He will turn 33 this month, and is coming off a season in which he missed five games with a knee injury.
Injuries at running back and tight end forced a number of roster moves. TE Cooper Helfet was waived/injured, along with tight ends Brandon Cottom and Ronnie Shields. Running back Tre Madden and defensive end David Perkins were waived/injured. Taking their spots were RB Jonathan Amosa, LB Kache Palacio, RB Troymaine Pope, WR Uzoma Nwachukwu and TE Joe Sommers.
Who shined: Well, one of the sheriff’s deputies providing security made a nice catch on a ball Jake Heaps threw out of bounds. Otherwise, it was a fairly quiet day as the players did not wear helmets or pads. In one team session, Frank Clark made a leaping deflection of a Russell Wilson pass that was intercepted by Bobby Wagner. WR Kenny Lawler had one of his best days since the rookie minicamp, making several nice catches, a couple in acrobatic form.
Who sat: Of the key players, Kam Chancellor (groin), Doug Baldwin (calf) and Jordan Hill (unspecified) remained out. Linebacker Brock Coyle, though, returned to action after missing several days (oblique).
Quote of the day: “There aren’t any superstars as offensive linemen, so the group is a star — if they’re right, they shine. If not, they look like bums. So, you don’t want to look like bums.”
— Offensive line coach Tom Cable