After much deliberation, Bryant finally realized his path and signed his letter of intent to play football with Methodist in the fall.
“I went to Elon, I went to Appalachian State, and I went down to Methodist, and, out of all three, I seemed to like Methodist. It seemed like I was right at home,” Bryant said.
On his trip to Methodist, Bryant felt an immediate connection with his new coaches.
“They were really nice to me and they seemed really humbled to see me,” Bryant said.
Although Bryant made his initial trip to Methodist a few months back, his new coaches still keep in regular contact with him to help make his transition from Starmount to Methodist a smooth process. “The coaches still call me to see how I’m doing and to see if I need anything or if I need to ask any questions,” he said.
While he still has several months before his college debut, Bryant has already began thinking about how he will contribute to the football team.
“I asked Coach Williams, the offensive coordinator, where were they going to put me. He said basically ‘M.J. you’re pretty good at what you do. You can choose whether you want to be a fullback or a linebacker.’ I like to play a linebacker. I’ve got the mentality of a linebacker. I’ve played linebacker all my life. I don’t know if I’ll start the first year, but I’ll have to work my way through that,” Bryant said.
Bryant will have to compete against the upperclassmen in the summer camps and in practice to earn a starting position with Methodist.
In addition to knowing where he wants to play on the field, Bryant also has a major picked out for a course of study.
He plans to pursue a degree in mathematics and eventually be a teacher someday. “I’ve talked about being a math teacher because I’m really good with numbers and I like to do math. It’s either between that or being a physical education teacher,” Bryant said.
Keeping in mind where he is going, Bryant never forgets where he began playing and where his love for the game originated.
“I’ve been playing football since second grade. I played for Jonesville until eighth grade and then I came up here,” he said.
In addition to playing football at the sertoma level, Bryant also spent many years watching family members play for Starmount before he got the opportunity to don his Ram uniform.
“I have a lot of people to thank— all my coaches from second grade until now, including all my j.v. and varsity coaches,” he said.
Bryant, along with teammate Jake Barr, helped lead the Rams to building one of the dominate football teams in the area. But his relationship with his teammates went beyond the blood and sweat shed on the field. Bryant and Barr often reminisce about their memories shared while playing for Starmount.
“Every chance, we talk about it. Some of the good memories and bad. Family is a big key to our team. I think that’s what came together for us more than anything—friendship, family and determination,” he said. Last season, the Rams earned a perfect conference record, and helped lead the Rams to an undefeated regular season.
Although he has several fond memories of his time at Starmount, one stands slightly above the rest.
“Right now, the only one that sticks out for me is when I scored the touchdown in the fourth quarter at Wilkes Central. I put my hands up and was really happy I helped my team win the game. I have a lot of other memories where I made big hits and game changing moments,” he said.
For Starmount Coach Scott Johnson, a few fond memories stand out about Bryant’s efforts on-field.
“Talking about memories—my memory of him (Bryant) was when he moved up as a sophomore during football season. He didn’t believe what we were telling him. He didn’t believe how good he could be. We were pretty hard on him and the kids were pretty hard on him. So between his sophomore and junior year in the summer we would go out and start our on-field work doing some tackling drills with no pads on which was mostly footwork. And he was being a little more aggressive than he ought to be. So after two or three they were like ‘You’ve got to make M.J. stop.’ And I told them, ‘As much as he’s put up with you guys better get used to it,” Johnson said.
But beyond going beyond Bryant’s natural ability in the game, Johnson commented on Bryant’s character.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is what a good fellow this guy is. He’s got great character and he’s a hard worker. He wants to do good. He’s going to do well at Methodist. I feel like what he showed between his sophomore and junior year, if he gets his mind right and what a good person he is, he’s going to do well,” Johnson said.