NFL Draft Profile: With Huskies' Myles Bryant, He Knows He Belongs

Husky Maven/Sports Illustrated's Trevor Mueller talks with NFL hopeful Myles Bryant about making his case to play on Sundays.
Publish date:

Even while stuck in his Seattle apartment, Myles Bryant finds ways to compete. The NFL hopeful from the University of Washington is used to putting in extra hours to perfect his craft. 

“Finding open grass to get my foot drills in is tough, but I make do," the senior from Pasadena, California, said. “Plus I have elastic bands and dumbbells in my apartment so I can still get a full workout in.”

Bryant has always done added work to become the best player he can. To get to the UW, he took the road less traveled by paying his own way to play for then-defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake.

“I knew that I would play," Bryant said of his journey as a walk-on. "I sacrificed a lot to get here.”

Husky Maven/Sports Illustrated college football analyst Mike Martin looks back at him now and realizes Bryant always had special qualities.

"I never really liked that people called him an overachiever," Martin said. "He has found ways to maximize his potential. That's what makes him great."

Bryant went without much sleep in the days leading up to his first fall camp in 2016. Not being on scholarship made him determined to earn one so he wasn't a financial burden to his family.

He mastered the playbook by the first day of fall camp. He showed confidence, which came from his competitiveness. Growing up in the shadow of the Rose Bowl, the young Bryant showed determination in everything he did.

“Football, soccer, basketball, baseball," Bryant said. "I was always competing with people who wanted to beat me.”

Sometimes they got the best of him but more often than not he held his own. His confidence began to build. But a defensive back’s job is full of reactions that can lead to a setback. He learned how to deal with it.

Bryant recovered by relying on a mindset from his baseball-playing days.

“A batter can fail two out of three times and that is considered a good day," Bryant said.

He pointed out that a batter must go to the plate with full confidence in his abilities regardless of previous at-bats. That mentality helped him develop his confident approach to football.

“The guy on the other side of the line is talented, too," Bryant said. "He works out just like me. He might get me from time to time.”

The three-time All-Pac-12 selection -- twice on the second team, once honorable mention -- began to show an unrelenting pursuit of success in 2017, his sophomore year. He received more and more playing time with the departures of Budda Baker, Sidney Jones and Kevin King to the pros.

He never dwelled on a play after it was over, good or bad, because he was focused on the next one and what needed to be done.

“You will not find another competitor like me," Bryant said. "I hold myself to the highest standards and expect my teammates and coaches to work as hard as I do.”

That's not bravado, it's resiliency. It's what Washington fans loved about him the past four years when he helped the Huskies earn two Pac-12 championships and a return to the Rose Bowl.

It took him a while to win over everyone, including Martin, who concedes he had a rash first impression. 

"I'll admit that when I heard that a kid from L.A. was walking onto Washington, I took notice," Martin said. "But when I saw that he was not ideal height, weight and speed, I foolishly dismissed him."

It didn't take long for Martin and others to realize they were wrong about Bryant. The guy could play. 

"Early in his sophomore year, on the road in Colorado, there were Taylor Rapp, Jordan Miller, JoJo MacIntosh and Zeke Turner in the secondary," Martin said. "But it was Bryant who had the game-changing pick-six."

Bryant intercepted one and scored late in the third quarter after the Buffaloes had pulled within a touchdown. In that game, Bryant finished third on the team in tackles behind linebackers Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria. Bryant was always around the ball that day.

"Even when he gets beat, he finds a way to beat you," Martin said. "Against Hawaii last season, Bryant had a pass completed right in front of him and he just ripped the ball out of the receiver's hands."

Bryant spent the afternoon helping disrupt then coach Nick Rolovich's vaunted run-and-shoot offense. He finished with four tackles, two interceptions and a sack.

Washington coach Jimmy Lake speaks highly of Bryant's football IQ, one that extends well beyond game day to make the defensive back special. 

“He’s just wired the right way," Lake told Sports Illustrated's Bruce Feldman. "He understands football principles and angles. At the same time, he’s quick enough and speedy to cover, and he also understands zone concepts."

Lake noted that Bryant's quest for information involved being well prepared to play his position and defend his opponent.

“A lot goes into it," Bryant explained. "You need to know about the player making the catch and his tendencies, create the best angle and take away as much space as possible as fast as you can.”

As for the NFL, he's watched UW teammates Rapp, Miller, MacIntosh, and Turner reach that level, as well as Baker, Jones and King prior to that.

Myles Bryant wants to join them, just like he did when he came to Washington. As he waits for his phone to ring on draft day, he'll maintain the firm belief that he belongs at the next level.

Who's to tell him any different?