April 3, 2012

Bryant continues to develop

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Follow Noon | Rowland | Givler | Birmingham

After seeing plenty of action the last two seasons, junior safety Christian Bryant is trying to take the next step in his development. Now a veteran, Bryant has been working hard in the off-season to lock down a starting safety position this fall. Last year, Bryant routinely found himself in the right spot to make plays, some of those plays were made and some of them were not, which at times resulted in big plays for the opposition. Bryant is looking to cut down on the mental mistakes he made last season while continuing to play with his aggressive style.

"This off-season I'm just staying in the film room," said Bryant. "I know that I'm an older guy now and I've been on the field for two years and I'm pretty experienced now so I'm just staying in the film room and get little tips from some of my older guys."

For additional support in the film room, Bryant has looked to a few former teammates at both the high school and college levels for tips.

"Donte Whitner and Malcolm Jenkins have been helping me a little bit in the film room," he explained. "I've just been staying on the JUGS machine doing DB drills every day. I talked to Ted (Ginn Jr.), Donte, and Jermale Hines, guys that I want to high school with, and they just told me that you can't stop. It's just constant work every day until I get where I need to be."

Bryant has had to make a few adjustments this off-season, one of which being the addition of new safeties coach/co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers. That adjustment has been easy so far, according to Bryant.

"Coach Withers, he's a great guy," Bryant said. "He's a guy that I have past experiences with. In high school he recruited me at North Carolina and he's coming in here and voicing his opinion early. We respect him as a coach and know his past accomplishments at North Carolina, we're getting along well."

Another adjustment for Bryant and the rest of the safeties has been practicing against an offense that looks vastly different from the one that has been in place the last several years.

"In practice it is (different)," he said. "The tempo of the offense is way faster. They are trying to get more plays in and the offense is based on scheme and that is the concept I think he's trying to (get across). I feel like it is (tougher to practice against). I feel like we're going against one of the fastest offenses in the country in practice so if we can defend them every day, we can defend everybody."

Schematically, Bryant says the transition has been smooth and that so far, there haven't been too many changes made to the general defensive philosophy.

"It's still early so we're not having too many different defenses being called, we're still working on our base," Bryant said. "It's not too much different right now."

One change that has been made, however, is the terminology used for the safeties. The new terminology comes with a slight change in the job description for the safety position.

"At the STAR position nothing really (has changed)," he said. "We're still going to use the STAR position in certain defenses and concepts but as far as regular safeties go, we used to go left and right safety but now it's strong and free safety."

"Free safety, you're giving more middle of the field help and strong safety you're coming down more in run support," he explained. "We try to mix it up to keep the offenses off balance."

While most of Bryant's focus is on locking down a starting position, he has noticed the play of his fellow safeties, and specifically pointed out one that has made some waves so far in the early stages of spring practice.

"Corey (Brown), he's a play maker," Bryant said. "He goes and gets the ball. He's a previous receiver so he's a good ball-hawking safety."


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