It was a difficult offseason for Lyons quarterback Ben Bryant. His dream commitment to Wisconsin “turned into a nightmare.”
Bryant, a 6-3, 195 pound senior, committed to the Badgers in December. In May he received a scholarship offer from Georgia. Bryant tweeted about it, which is a totally normal occurrence. What happened next wasn’t normal. The Wisconsin coaching staff informed Bryant that he no longer had a scholarship.
“My dream of becoming a Badger turned into a nightmare. This was literally one of the worst days of my life,” Bryant said in a long, heartfelt and sensible statement on Twitter.
Bryant said he informed the Wisconsin coaches that he was totally committed to the Badgers the night before tweeting about the Georgia offer. But he also admitted that things had seemed off with Wisconsin for awhile.
“Communication with UW and my feeling of being part of the family has been subpar at times and during several visits,” Bryant said in the statement.
Bryant committed to Cincinnati in June, so the nightmare has a happy ending. Looking back now it is also fortunate for Bryant and Lyons that the Twitter controversy played out during the offseason.
“Thankfully it isn’t happening now and I can focus on the team,” Bryant said before practice on Monday. “I’m over it honestly. I’m happy with where I’m committed now and I’m 100 percent focused on this year and this team.”
Bryant is the 13th ranked player in the state and top-rated rated quarterback according to Rivals.com. His presence gives Lyons, the No. 5 team in the preseason Super 25, a legitimate shot at the Class 8A state title.
“We have really high goals this year,” Bryant said. “We obviously have a lot of guys returning on offense but the defense has improved a lot this summer. I expect really big results.”
Eight starters return on the offense and four on defense. The offensive line is expected to be especially strong. Three players that have been playing varsity since sophomore year make up the soul of the team: Bryant, wide receiver Brandon Fischer and defensive tackle Mickey Brown.
“We are bringing a lot of leadership,” Brown said. “We’ve matured a lot of the past three years. I’ve seen it in the way we push each other and the way we push ourselves. We are ready to mess things up on the field and hopefully win a state championship.”
Bryant and Fischer have been playing together since seventh grade. They are good friends that train and work out daily over the summer.
“They definitely have a connection,” Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg said. “We have a good, tight knit group in general but those guys have a bond for sure.”
The Lions were 8-3 last season and lost to Palatine in the second round of the playoffs. The pieces are in place for a much deeper run this season. Weinberg singled out junior Hareson Willis, a cornerback, as a possible breakout player this season. Also keep an eye on running back Bryce Moskiewicz. He was the backup last season and will benefit from the experienced offensive line.
“[Bryant] was very good last year,” Weinberg said. “But his anticipation, his knowledge of the game, his understanding of defenses and what they are giving you and what you can take has gotten even better. I’m excited, I think he’s going to have a great year.”
Aug. 25 at Sandburg
Sep. 1 vs. Hinsdale South
Sep. 8 at York
Sep. 16 vs. Proviso West
Sep. 22 at Leyden
Sep. 29 vs. Glenbard West
Oct. 6 at Downers Grove North
Oct. 13 at Hinsdale Central
Oct. 20 vs. Oak Park
This is the first story in the Sun-Times 2017 Football Countdown series. Here’s what you can expect over the next couple weeks:
Aug. 23: Week 1’s top games
Aug. 24: A capsule look at the Super 25, Top 50 players