Jarod Bryant’s was a long and strange college football career. Having been named Alabama’s Mr. Football in high school, fans saddled him with ridiculous expectations as a plebe, hailed him as the solution to all the team’s problems when he was on the bench, then blamed him for all the team’s problems when he was on the field. All the while, Jarod just kept trying to find ways to help the team win, whether as a quarterback, slotback, placekick holder, or whatever. It’s a quality that led to him being named team captain senior year, and hopefully it’s how he’ll be remembered in the long run.
With the occasional turmoil the offense saw in 2008, it would be easy to forget the fantastic job that Jarod did in relief of Kaipo on more than one occasion in 2007. He ran for 139 yards against Northern Illinois, sparked a comeback to force overtime against Ball State, went 8-11 passing against Delaware, and led touchdown drives on four of six possessions against North Texas. At the top of the heap, though, was Jarod’s performance against Duke on a hot September afternoon in Annapolis. Stepping in with the team trailing by 11 in the fourth quarter, Navy’s closer led a 17-play field goal drive, caught a touchdown pass from slotback Bobby Doyle, then scored on the ensuing two-point conversion to tie the game. Duke took over with 3:49 remaining, but their drive ended when Ketric Buffin made an interception inside the Navy 20. Buffin was pushed out of bounds at the 26, where the offense took over with only 38 seconds left. What followed was a 35-yard scamper to glory that can really only be appreciated in slow motion, with appropriate musical accompaniment.
Jarod ran out of bounds at the Duke 39. The big gain allowed Coach Johnson to run the ball to run down the clock and set up the game-winning field goal, a given when your kicker is a cruel, heartless cyborg like Joey Bullen.
There’s lots of greatness to be had on this play. There’s the expert setup of the draw, the 360 move to escape one tackle, the ankle-melting jukes to escape two others, the splendid use of downfield blocking, and the situational awareness to get out of bounds. But it all pales in comparison to the singular awesomeness of finding the time to adjust your helmet in the middle of that bedlam. Now that’s multi-tasking, and it earns Jarod a spot in the Hall of Awesome.