Charlie Bryant was working as a campus security guard at Christian Brothers University, and he wasn’t the butt of anyone’s jokes. The former University of Memphis lineman was pursuing life after football and he was perfectly content with how that chase was going.
Bryant graduated with a degree in criminal justice last fall. He was applying everywhere, from the Memphis Police Department to Nashville to federal agencies.
“I’d just been working, pretty much thinking football’s over, working toward other things,” Bryant said. “That’s my story.”
Until Thursday, when Bryant was about to end his shift at CBU. It was 2:35 p.m., and his cell phone rang. On the other line was a San Diego Chargers’ coach, extending a training camp invite to the 6-foot-8 Bryant, and of course he said yes. He’ll arrive in San Diego, Calif., tonight to sign the paperwork.
“I did not expect this,” Bryant said. “I’m so pumped I can’t even think straight.”
Bryant doesn’t have an agent. The Green Bay Packers called two or three days ago, he said, but other than that, he hasn’t had essentially any contact with a football organization.
He participated in two Pro Days in March and has stayed in shape by working out daily, but Bryant is surprised mostly because the camp invitation came on the heels of what he called “one of the worst years of his life.”
Last season, his final with the Tigers, Bryant was moved to from defensive lineman to offensive lineman six games into the year. His playing time diminished. On top of that, the Tigers went 1-11 in what was one of the worst seasons in program history.
“Everything fell apart,” Bryant said. “My life was going downhill. I hate losing, seeing everyone down like that. Everything just stunk.”
But that was then, and a prolonged post-lockout tryout with the Chargers — as a defensive lineman, at that — is now.
“I hope I get a spot,” Bryant said. “That’d be the dream, to get a spot on practice squad, anywhere. I just want to give it my all and do my best.”