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The transformation of FSU football’s Keith Bryant

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Will a downsized width help with depth?

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Florida State v Houston
Keith Bryant
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Versatility can be a key attribute of any football player. The ability to line up at various spots is often the difference between seeing the field and riding the pine. And while images of DBs-turned-receivers and linebackers converted into running backs often spring readily to mind, such flexibility can certainly bolster the careers of the big uglies, too.

We saw it when Cameron Erving slid inside from defensive tackle to offensive tackle to center, and we’re witnessing it as well with Rick Leonard’s flip from defensive end to the offensive line. Now Keith Bryant hopes that a similar move will pay dividends for him—one that could prove a weighty switch for the ‘Nole defense as a whole.

A four-star recruit previously committed to Miami, Bryant was a U.S. Army All-American prior to arriving at FSU. During the course of his three-year Seminole career, he has played across the defensive line.

Debuting in Tallahassee in 2013, the 6-2 Bryant weighed in at 312 pounds and practiced as a defensive tackle, although he took a redshirt in that championship season. He added weight the following year, when he tipped the scales at 319 pounds and was listed as a nose guard. However, playing time did not increase with Bryant’s size, as he saw action in just The Citadel game as a redshirt freshman.

Bryant shed some pounds for the 2015 campaign, trimming down to 294. But he played in just two games and registered four tackles, one for loss.

Cue 2016, and the Seminoles’ continuing concerns about depth on the edge. Well, those issues could be magnified, if not for Bryant’s continued decrease in size. Bryant enters 2016 listed at a far slimmer 274 and is now practicing as a defensive end, where he’s quite fleet of foot.

319 to 274: that’s a 45-pound shift in weight, and an entirely different body for Bryant, one with which he’s impressed in 2016. After successful fourth-quarter drills, he fought back from a foot injury that caused him to miss spring ball, and began fall camp as the third-team DE. However, he’s moved up to the second line, as DeMarcus Walker’s backup. If Bryant keeps showing out the way he has thus far this fall, his weight loss could very well end up being the Florida State defense’s gain— and at a position where the ‘Noles could really use the depth.