Florida Gators new defensive line coach Chris Rumph probably had a very similar reaction to hearing about Wyoming product Taven Bryan as most people.
“I don’t know how many great players have come out of the state of Wyoming,” Rumph said. “But he could be up there. If there is one, he could be just as good as those guys once he learns the game.”
Bryan was a relative unknown when he committed to Florida during the summer of 2014. A tall, athletic, strong defensive lineman, many wondered where he would play at Florida. He played both ways in high school and with the offensive line numbers the way that they were and are, many thought he would be put there.
Bryan, however, has stuck it out on the defensive side of the ball and he’s working next to Joey Ivie, Jon Bullard and Alex McCalister with the first team defensive line group.
As a freshman, Bryan took a redshirt, but that wasn’t the plan. Bryan got strep throat in August. He took some time off from practice while he was sick, but the problem persisted. He eventually needed surgery to have his tonsils and adenoids taken out and wasn’t cleared to return to practice until the final week of the season. At that point, there was no sense in playing him in two games, wasting a year of eligibility.
Coming from Wyoming, Bryan is still new to the game and the nuances that the coaching staff is teaching. He’s like a sponge, soaking it all in but he has a ways to go.
“Taven Bryan is a guy who has really come on during the spring,” defensive coordinator Geoff Collins said.
Collins is the coordinator, therefore this is his defense, but the coach that is working most closely with Bryan is Rumph.
“He brings energy. That’s my big Wyoming wild man,” said Rumph. “He’s a big old cave man and wants to use all his brute strength. But he’s athletic for a big guy.”
Rumph was a straight shooter when talking to the media about his players. There’s no coach speak in his blood and he didn’t mince words. His eyes lit up when Bryan’s name was mentioned, you can tell that Rumph sees a world of potential in the redshirt freshman, like a ball of clay, waiting to be molded into a masterpiece.
“Everything right now is just new for him. I got him on Gerber, baby food. I can’t even feed him table food yet, he would choke,” Rumph joked. “But once he learns, his teeth are starting to come in, maybe we will feed him off the table before long.”
Bryan is country strong and has a work ethic to match his physical attributes. At more than 280-pounds, he’s having no trouble playing inside next to Joey Ivie. Bryan’s speed and athleticism are of a player much smaller than he is but that’s what is exciting to him is the opportunity to coach a player who listens, works his tail off and is ready to learn every day.