For Drew Bryant, the twisted and gnarled condition of his helmet is worn as a badge of honor.
“The true report card of a football player is not your stats,” said Steve Bryant, Drew Bryant’s father. “I just like looking at his football helmet when he brings it home on the weekends and all you see are gashes and there’s no paint left on his facemask. That just kind of shows me he’s putting his nose where it needs to be and that he’s hitting with his head up and always around the ball. He has a knack for the ball. At the end of the day, that’s your job on defense, to go get the guy with the ball.”
Luckily for Reed, Drew Bryant is the best around the local prep world at doing his job.
With quickness and vision to work from sideline to sideline, making tackles and using his speed to track down running backs and wide receivers, Drew Bryant tops the state in tackles with 149. His tenacity on the gridiron has helped the Raiders repeat as High Desert League champions and return to the Division I North title game tonight. And to him, that is all that matters.
“It’s about our team going out and doing what we do,” Drew Bryant said. “It’s not just me. It’s all of us. I’m just one of the guys out there. You have your linemen and corners working hard around you so you have to fly around just as much to make plays for them.
“I’m just glad to be back in another championship game. It means the world. To get to play for a championship is special. That’s what football is all about, trying to win championships.”
With the title final against Damonte Ranch being played at Mackay Stadium, Drew Bryant will run onto the field and look to add another title to the Raiders’ resume under the same lights that his dad played beneath so many times before.
A middle linebacker at Nevada from 1990-93, Steve Bryant was a key component of the 1990 national runner-up. He also spent a season in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. Now he has passed his winning tradition onto his son.
“I was just raised around football. He introduced me to the game,” Drew Bryant said of his father’s influence. “He gave me my fire and my intensity. We talk every night after the games. I just love the game of football and I feel like he gave me that love. I owe everything to him and I just love him.”
Playing since the first grade, Drew Bryant said he has loved the game that he shares with his dad since the moment he threw on a helmet. In the years that have passed, that passion has not diminished. And it has impacted the Raiders.
“There is no doubt he is our defensive team leader and one of our team leaders, period,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “Just based on his work ethic and the position that he’s put himself in, he is a natural leader. The cool thing is just watching him become that verbal leader as well. And I love the way he’s done it. He’s never gotten on his guys. He’ll tell them to work harder and push them that way, but he does it the right way every time.”
The business-like defensive anchor does not just do it the right way on the football field. Carrying a 4.8 GPA, he also takes care of his job in the classroom.
“The thing that my wife and I have always stressed is to get the classroom stuff done first,” Steve Bryant said. “He’s more than excelled there. I don’t think the kid has ever had a ‘B.’ It’s just in his nature to compete. Drew’s a funny kid. He’ll compete with you in anything, even it’s just being the first one to get a drink of water.
“He has been able to not only do some of the things that I did on the football field, but with the level he’s at right now he’s blowing me away with what I was doing at the high school level. Honestly, I don’t think I was as good as what I see on the field with Drew at that age. I wasn’t that big or that strong when I was his age so it’s neat to watch him. Just seeing him grow up, I’m kind of out of words. Just to see how he’s kind of blossomed into a pretty good football player and a great kid, it’s been pretty special to watch him grow up and be his dad.”
Like his dad, it has been special for all of Raider Nation to watch Drew Bryant develop into the player and leader he has become.