August 10, 2006

Next step for Bryant: Being a leader

No one will ever accuse Dorien Bryant of not talking enough, as the junior wide receiver is one of the most bubbly, vocal, fun-loving players on Purdue's roster.

But this season, it is hoped that what comes out of Bryant's over-active mouth will be more productive.

Talent and production are certainly not issues for a player who's snared 118 passes the past two seasons and has factored heavily into Purdue's running game and return game, while even chipping in on defense a few times last season.

This season, though, the next step for Bryant may come in the form of leadership, an area he's prioritizing.

"I think I've always been a leader, but I think I've never really been a vocal leader," Bryant said. "… I'm not the guy who's going to yell and scream, 'Let's go!' or anything like that.I'm kind of hitting on that this season."

Last season was difficult on a player who's known nothing but athletic excellence and success since he was a youth. Bryant felt he played well as a sophomore, but when Purdue began losing - it finished 5-6 and missed the post-season for the first time in the better part of a decade - Bryant found himself experiencing something new, and he didn't know how to react.

Getting lost in Purdue's offense amidst a quarterback controversy didn't make anything easier

The lows were deep, as Bryant, over a three-game mid-season stretch, all losses, became a virtual non-factor in an offense he practically had monopolized earlier in the season. Needless to say, he struggled dealing with struggling, as losing often produced head-hanging - sometimes even helmet-throwing - in response.

Never more so was that the case than at Wisconsin. When a pass intended for Bryant was intercepted deep in Badger territory, Bryant visibly gave up on the play.While Bryant - perhaps the fastest man in the stadium - trotted listlessly, Roderick Rogers zig-zagged his way 84 yards for a pivotal Badger touchdown. Later in that game, Bryant would be benched for the Boilermakers' final drive, following a sideline episode where his frustration clearly got the best of him.

This year, it is hoped that failure is kept to a minimum, but when it inevitably arises, that Bryant will know how to better endure it.

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