Saturday, July 28, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.14 Antonio Bryant

I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972.  I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion.  The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree.  I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used.  I will add at least one a day, maybe two.  

My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
3.  Place in program history.
4.  Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers. 
5.  No current players.

14.  Antonio Bryant (1999-2001)-  I don't want to make anybody feel old but Bryant's freshman season was 13 years ago.  It seems like yesterday that the Panthers grabbed the Florida native late in the recruiting season.  Louisville was Bryant's only other offer forever becoming the example for Pitt fans everywhere that even lightly recruited players can turn into stars.

It didn't take long for Bryant to show the rest of the country that they made a mistake when he had 51 catches for 844 yards, a 16.5 avg., as a true freshman.  He also added 6 touchdowns and had a 13 catch, 251 yard game against Virginia Tech.

But it was a sophomore that Bryant really exploded.  In that magical season, he had 68 catches for 1,302 yards, and 11 touchdowns.  He showed his big play ability with a 19.1 avg., as well as an 8 catch, 222 yard, 2 touchdown game against Boston College and an 8 catch, 212 yard game against North Carolina.  That season ended in consensus first team All-American honors and was the school's first Biletnikoff Award winner.

As a junior, things did not go as well as Bryant who had legal problems, a suspension, ankle injuries, and had to play through an ill-conceived plan by head coach Walt Harris to change the offense before the season started.  But Bryant still ended the season with 42 catches, 659 yards, and 9 touchdowns, and he still showed signs of greatness.  Against West Virginia, he had 11 catches for 186 yards, and he was named MVP of the Tangerine Bowl as he had 7 catches for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Panthers beat N.C. State 34-19.

For his career, he is 1st in school history in receiving yards, 2nd in receptions, and 2nd in touchdowns.  He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Dallas Cowboys, and played 8 seasons in the NFL.  Twice he had over 1,000 yards in a season and was out of the league since 2009 until he was signed this season by the Seattle Seahawks.    


  1. Bowling Green PantherJuly 28, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    I so much enjoy this trip down meory lane. Bryant was such an amazing talent bu such a headcase as well. I have never seen a player (except for grade school ball) act the way he did in a game at Syracuse either freshman or sophomore year.

    When all is said and done, it would be interestng to complie the players by recruiting class and playing years. For example, Bryant, Rutherford, Hayes and Walker were all part of 1999 I believe.

  2. One of my favorites. A great player. At worst, he was immature at Pitt, understandable for an 18-20 year old. I'll never forget he and Latef Grimm tearing up the VA Tech secondary, and his tremendous TD catch vs. Iowa State in the Insight Bowl.

  3. Yes nice memory. AB had an unbelievable catch for a 2nd TD in the Insight Bowl.

  4. I loved watching Bryant and Grim play. I know se bash Walt, but boy did he have some exciting offenses. Being able to come up big in games against VT, BC, Miami, PSU. He had his short shortcomings but I loved Walt. A lot better coach than we've had since.

  5. I hope Bryant can catch on with the Seahawks. Apparently, however, he reported to camp with "a hamstring problem."

    Good luck AB!