Ventell Bryant, Temple’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, has seen his perseverance pay off after not being drafted or immediately signed as a rookie free agent.
On Saturday, Bryant signed a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals and will be with the team when it begins organized team activities Monday.
Bryant, who ended his career with 177 receptions for 2,444 yards and 10 touchdowns, was invited to the Bengals rookie minicamp, which began on Thursday, on a tryout basis. He impressed the coaching staff enough to earn a contact.
“Once practice concluded, they told the tryout guys to head to the auditorium and to meet with the coaches,” Bryant said on Saturday evening in a phone interview. “When one of the coaches called my name and said he was looking forward to signing me, it was a little emotional.”
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Bryant wasn’t drafted and then didn’t earn an immediate call to sign a rookie free-agent contract.
Finally, the Bengals called him and offered him a tryout. According to Bryant, the New Orleans Saints also offered him a tryout.
“I thought the Bengals would be a better situation for me,” Bryant said.
Not being drafted or immediately signed by an NFL team as a rookie free agent just added to Bryant’s motivation.
“After Day 3 of the draft [April 27] and then not getting any calls, I was a little discouraged, but I kept being told to stay patient and I kept working out twice a day,” he said. “I was a tryout guy, so I had a chip on my shoulder.”
Bryant, who earned his undergraduate degree in communications studies in May 2018, was a fifth-year senior this past season, when he had 51 receptions for 690 yards and three touchdowns.