Bryant took long road to NFL

Posted Mar 14, 2013

After being mostly overlooked out of high school, Desmond Bryant went to Harvard and made it in the NFL as an undrafted free agent.

For new Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Desmond Bryant, there were no big recruiting trips or a National Signing Day celebration after agreeing to play for a high-level college football team coming out of East Bladen High School in Elizabethtown, N.C.

However, when Bryant agreed to terms on a five-year contract with the Browns in the first few hours of the free-agency period earlier this week, he finally reached a goal he set for himself early in his NFL career.

“I’ve always had a vision since I was a young boy that I was going to play in the NFL,” Bryant said. “I never knew what kind of numbers would be on the contract or anything. As I got older and got to the league, I saw what other players were making and that was a goal of mine.”

Rather than playing at the highest levels of college football, Bryant took the Ivy League route and played at Harvard University, where he registered 66 total tackles and 13.5 sacks in 32 games for the Crimson. As a senior, Bryant earned second-team All-Ivy League honors following a 20-tackle, 1.5-sack season.

“Coming out of Harvard, it’s difficult to get to the NFL, but I felt if I was given a chance, if I was able to make it to a training camp, then, once there, I’d be able to handle the rest,” Bryant said. “I was about 75 pounds lighter coming out of high school, so that was the big thing. I also moved in high school from Delaware to North Carolina.”

Despite playing football at Harvard, where the focus is more on academics and not what happens on the gridiron, Bryant was able to attract the attention of pro scouts. After going undrafted in 2009, the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Bryant was signed as a free agent by the Oakland Raiders.

In Oakland, Bryant registered 124 tackles and 11.5 sacks. He missed only one of a possible 64 games in four years with the Raiders.

“Going into his background a little bit, it’s very unique,” said Browns coach Rob Chudzinski. “What he’s done with his career is a testament to his hard work. He’s a self-made man in that way. Those are the types of guys that we want to be here that have that type of attitude, that chip on their shoulder to be a great player, to be the best.”

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