Midway through the 2016 season, on August 3rd the Ottawa Redblacks signed both Serderius Bryant and Nicholas Taylor. The two defensive standouts had great careers in Ottawa, but what it took for Bryant to get to Ottawa was unreal.
Serderius Bryant, the 5’8 210 lb linebacker spent his early days in Sanford, Florida. In Sanford, Bryant didn’t see his father until later in his childhood therefore was raised by his mom, Shonda Bryant. Sanford also wasn’t the safest place for a child, with the crime rate among the highest in the USA there wasn’t great odds to be able to stay out of trouble.
In an interview with Bryant he stated, “My support system and the people around me helped keep me motivated, but in real talk it was the obstacles I went through that really made me stronger and made me push my way through the hard times.”
Although the odds weren’t great for Bryant, he was aware of his surroundings and he made a way out of Sanford. In high-school, Serderius found himself playing all sports displayed to him and he made great light of it.
Although he played multiple sports throughout his high-school days, he excelled highly at the sport of football. Even though Bryant stood at just 5’8, he played hard and fast at the linebacker position, and he turned enough heads to receive multiple NCAA offers. At Seminole Secondary School in Sanford, Serderius was among both Ray Ray Armstrong and Kadeem Edwards going to the NCAA for football. Serderius Bryant signed with and played with the University of Mississippi, where he played linebacker from his Freshman season all the way to his senior season.
In an interview with Bryant, I asked what it was like to play college ball even after the tough times he went through and he later said, “It was a blessing, to actually pull through and play there was awesome. As a kid, I talked up a storm about how I’d do it, but going through it and winning a few championships was a big deal for me. The team we had at Ole Miss was awesome, it was a big family and after beating Alabama, it was as if we won the title.”
At Ole Miss, Bryant played over 48 games, and in the final two seasons he came to play. In both his Junior and Senior season he combined for 143 tackles (20.5 for loss) along with 3 forced fumbles, 3 sacks, 2 pass deflections and one interception.
The numbers he finished his college career with were just enough to get some professional teams on board with Bryant’s story and his future. After going drafted in 2015, the Dallas Cowboys wanted to see Bryant’s potential and later offered him a try out. Unfortunately for his potential NFL career, he was also offered a full contract with the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the CFL.
With the decision between a full contract and a try out, Bryant took the contract with the Tiger-Cats where he would play the 2015 pre-season.
In the pre-season, he dealt with minimal playing time, unable to show the CFL exactly what he has to offer, but he was still able to put up decent numbers. Even though he put up decent numbers, the small amount of playing time left him going back to Sanford. Serderius Bryant had been cut from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and did not receive another contract offer until 2016 where the Ottawa Redblacks were looking for defensive help.
After spending a full month on the Redblacks practice roster to learn the playbook and Canadian rules, Bryant played his first CFL regular season game on September 23rd when the Redblacks hosted the Toronto Argonauts.
In his first game played, Bryant pulled through with one defensive tackle. After getting just one tackle in his first game, Bryant was getting the Redblacks defense prepped for the playoffs, as he finished the 2016 regular season with 18 tackles and a fumble recovery in just 6 games played.
Finishing the season with 18 tackles, Bryant and the Redblacks made there way to the East-Final where they matched up against the Edmonton Eskimos who crossed over to the East in 2016. In the East Final, Bryant and the Redblacks defense held the Eskimos to just 23 points, and the Redblacks were headed to the 2016 Grey Cup.
Going into the Grey Cup, the Redblacks were the obvious underdog. The team being 8-9-1 playing against the 15-2-1 Calgary Stampeders. The game on November 27th 2016 was something special for Bryant, and many other players although Bryant already had won a championship in both high-school and university, with a win in the Grey Cup, he would add a professional championship to his name too.
Making a small but effective impact to the Redblacks Grey Cup win, was Serderius Bryant. He got just 2 tackles, but recovered a fumble in the 2nd quarter which gave momentum to the Ottawa offense which ended up scoring a touchdown off the turnover.
In the talk I had with Bryant, I got him to walk me through that play, “It was just one of those plays, I wasn’t running at full speed and I was caught slacking a little bit, but when Jake Harty came running, I pretty much came running too, cause I knew he was going to make a play, and I was just there at the right time. It was a great time too, as I had a great celebration, it was a great experience to have that happen.”
Making enough of an impact in the game, the Redblacks went on to beat the Stampeders 39-33 in overtime.
As a player who likes to talk game on the field, Bryant explained, “Bo Levi was by far the easiest player to chirp. When we played the Grey Cup, Bo Levi was the best player in the league, and he never threw more than two interceptions in one game and then he met me. I was talking to him throughout the whole game, and I believe it really made a difference. As a quarterback who never threw more than 2 interceptions in one game and go on to throw three in the biggest game of his career, you know there was something wrong with him, and it was the bird on the field chirping into his head.”
Coming back after the big Grey Cup championship, Bryant was groomed into a starting job in 2017 for the Redblacks and in the starting position for the majority of the games, he was able to tackle over 56 players, along with forcing 2 turnovers.
Unfortunately, the Redblacks were knocked out of the playoffs after just the first round, although in the game, Bryant had 3 tackles to pair with a fumble recovery.
After a mediocre season in Ottawa, Bryant went on to be unsigned as a CFL free agent and would later find his life after football.
Even though he would go unsigned by the Redblacks, Bryant later talks highly about the Redblacks fan base and the city itself, “The fans in Ottawa are the best. I played for two teams in the CFL both Hamilton and Ottawa, and Ottawa’s fans take the win by a long mile. It’s more a family oriented fan base, the team was a big team and the fans were a part of the team. Even when I walked around the city you felt that way too, everyone was so nice and when you seen a fan, they were so genuine about everything and it really felt like a winning city.”
Before being unsigned and out of football, Bryant had a lot of experiences within the time played in both the NCAA and CFL where he can reflect on, and in the interview I had with him I asked who the best offensive lineman he had to go up against in his career, “I played against a lot of big guys in my career, but Joel ‘Big Fig’ Figueroa was one of the best! When we played against him at Miami, I knew he was a great athlete but going up against him one on one, he is one of the most powerful players I went up against, his drive to protect his QB is something else and one of the best things about him is he talks a little big of trash back, so the matchups were fun too.” (Joel Figueroa now plays for the B.C Lions)
After one season unsigned, Bryant started helping younger athletes succeed as a personal trainer in his hometown of Sanford, and with that already started up, he also is about to start up his own CBD selling brand named Burd’s CBD.
I asked Bryant if the dream has left and been out the window, but he said back “The dream will never be done, I’ll always be in shape and ready to play football, we just have to wait on it to happen.”