Throwback Thursday features a great Tiger athlete from the past. Today it features a big contributor to the first national title ever won by Clemson Football.
Jeff Bryant – Defensive Tackle, 1978-81
- Second-team All-American for the 1981 National Championship team
- Led the National Championship team in sacks and tackles for loss
When it comes to defense on the 1981 National Championship team, many people think of names like William Perry, Jeff Davis, and Terry Kinard, but big Jeff Bryant was the man who anchored the defensive line that probably doesn’t get mentioned nearly often enough.
Bryant played high school football at Gordon High School in Decatur, Georgia. He came to Clemson to play for Coach Charley Pell. Pell coached Bryant for one season before he left the Tiger program. Pell’s offensive line coach Danny Ford took over as head coach for the Gator Bowl at the end of Bryant’s freshman season. That game became famous as Woody Hayes’s last game as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Over the next few seasons, Bryant worked his way up the ladder. By his senior season, he and the Tigers were ready to make their mark on college football and Clemson history. He had 19 tackles for a loss in the 1981 season and was named second-team All-American. He is best remembered for recovering a fumble against the North Carolina Tar Heels that sealed the victory for the Tigers 10-8. He is #99 in the video below.
Jeff Bryant doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his contributions to Clemson Football.
Against Georgia in 1981, Clemson forced a whopping nine fumbles, and Bryant was accountable for two of them.
Bryant was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. He played twelve seasons of professional football, all for the Seahawks. He was a reliable player, only playing less than fifteen games in three seasons. He had 63 career sacks, eleven fumble recoveries, one interception, and one safety. He was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 1996.