Ventell Bryant looks like an NFL wide reciever.
He’s 6-foot-3, has a muscular 200 pound frame, has elite leaping ability and — in Temple’s spring practices — often looks like a man among boys grabbing passes, using his size and speed, with ease.
With the 2019 NFL draft more than a year away, the rising senior is already projected to be a 5th to 7th round pick (according to WalterFootball.com). He has natural ability. And, with his last season in the college ranks set to begin this fall, he has a renewed drive.
“This winter I really attacked it,” Bryant said after practice earlier in March. “I got a good feeling, a fire I’m my chest. I didn’t perform the way I wanted to last year. I had expectations I wanted to reach and I didn’t reach them. I had distractions and lost my number, this is my last year and I want to give it everything I have.”
Bryant began last year with No. 1 emblazoned on his back. He finished wearing No. 19.
He entered last season with a combined 1,474 receiving yards on 93 catches and seven touchdowns — and was a human highlight reel. He ended last year with just 280 yards and no touchdowns for an Owls team that won a bowl game.
Bryant selflessly relented his single-digit number, an age old honor for the Temple football team, wanting a player who earned it to wear No. 1 (he earned it in the offseason before his sophomore season). He had a down year in 2017 by anyone’s standards. But he intends for it to be his last down year, ever.
“He’s been unbelievable,” the soon-to-be starting quarterback for the Owls Frank Nutile said. “The way he’s been working out and attacking this offseason I really haven’t seen anything like it.”
Nutile and Bryant are roommates, and Nutile was awarded No. 8 to wear last week, before the first spring practice of the new year. And despite being the center of attention for a larger-than-usual media contigent on site that day, Nutile raved about Bryant.
“He worked hard today,” Nutile said, “caught some long touchdowns, we are all expecting big things from him. As a leader he’s done a great job taking the young receivers under his wing and we expect big things from Ventell.”
When Bryant was a freshman, he was able to follow Robbie Anderson (current New York Jet) and Jalen Fitzpatrick around as he learned how to be a college athlete. Now, the Tampa native is the stud receiver in the clubhouse and teaching younger guys how to conduct themselves.
“I’ve been really proud of him,” Temple head coach Geoff Collins said. “He’s worked really hard, he’s put his head down and worked, the other day we had him come back for study hall on Sunday and Ventell was the first one in the building. It was a little thing but it’s a huge step for him to be the first guy in this building.”
Bryant has the talent and is a good season away from playing on Sundays. He has all the tools he needs to improve his draft stock. But he’s learned through an up and down college career that nothing is given and nothing is guaranteed. Which means before he suits up on Sundays, he needs to make sure he’s a bonafide star on Saturdays.
And also means Bryant may need to change uniform numbers once again.