For Corbin Bryant, the journey began on Chicago’s south side at Morgan Park High School. Standing at 6-4, and just 240 pounds, Randy Walker brought him up to Evanston to be a Wildcat. It all took off from there.
Throughout his career at Northwestern, Bryant worked to become a standout on the defensive line. His hard work would gain major notice.
As a fifth-year senior, Corbin Bryant, was one of Northwestern’s co-captains, named honorable mention All-Big Ten, and earned multiple honors for off the field work. Bryant’s impact was felt on the field, where he had 89 tackles in 35 career starts on the Wildcats’ defensive line.
After all of that, Bryant was still a little-known commodity among NFL scouts. So the “Randy Walker Wildcat Warrior Award” winner (awarded to the Wildcat who shows work ethic and toughness) did what he knows best. He kept pushing himself, with hopes of a new journey.
That started with a strong showing at the Texas vs. The Nation All-State Game, where he impressed NFLs scouts. But his stock soared after an eye-opening performance at the Northwestern Pro Day—a day highlighted by Bryant’s 31 reps on bench press.
With scouts from 28 NFL teams on hand, Bryant gave everything in his power to put on a show.
“I just wanted to do as many as I could, I was just trying not to stop,” said Bryant, who admitted adrenaline kicked in around his 25th rep. “I just wasn’t even counting in m head; I just wanted to pump it till I couldn’t anymore.”
After his big Pro Day, interest picked up for the 6-4, 300-lb. defensive tackle. NFL teams were interested in seeing Bryant’s strength in person, so he participated in workouts for the Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, and a few other NFL teams.
The big Pro Day helped get scouts excited about Bryant.
“That’s what they want to see,” Bryant said of his Pro Day. “I definitely raised my stock and changed some people who were doubters before.”
As NFL Draft weekend approached, Bryant had the support of old teammates and coaches. He has worked out with former Northwestern teammate Corey Wootton ever since the Bears’ season ended, and he has been in touch with other former teammates like Sherrick McManis (now of the Houston Texans), and Prince Kwateng, who was briefly a member of the New Orleans Saints organization.
In addition, Bryant has turned to his old coach, Pat Fitzgerald, for advice and support as he prepares for the next level.
“He’s always very encouraging for a player trying to live the dream,” Bryant said of Fitzgerald. “He’s been a very encouraging part of this process.”
Now, the workouts are done for Corbin Bryant, and he’s stuck playing the waiting game. With two more days left in the draft, Bryant said he will be checking his phone constantly, joking that he “won’t let anybody else play on it.”
In the days leading up to the draft, Bryant has gotten clues from NFL teams of where and when he would be picked, but declined to comment on that.
Scout.com projections say it’s unlikely that Bryant will be selected on Friday—the day for second and third round draft selections. Instead, his big phone call could come in the late-rounds on Saturday. While waiting for the big phone call, Bryant has a positive feeling that it’s all going to work out.
“I definitely got an optimistic feeling,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll get drafted or not. I know I may get a shot in training camp. If I do get a shot, I’ll do my best to take advantage of it.”
For Corbin Bryant, that big phone call isn’t just the start of an NFL career, but the start of something very special. It’s the beginning of a new journey.
“This is the end of this part of the journey, and I know a new part is going to begin soon,” Bryant said. “I’m excited to find out where I wind up so I can get started.”