“Day by day, Jake will get better and better, ‘til I can’t get beat, won’t get beat.”
That’s the quote that stays with Jacques Bryant every day in the weight room. It’s the quote that has propelled him this season. It’s the quote he lives by.
The Florida A&M University senior defensive back earned first team All-MEAC honors for his performance in his final season. He also was named FAMU’s MVP for the Florida Classic.
“All my hard work and dedication came into something great,” said Bryant. “I went out with a bang. It’s a blessing because they could’ve picked somebody else but they picked me. My work has been shown.”
He’s enjoyed playing against top contenders this season, including North Carolina A&T, Bethune Cookman, North Carolina Central and the University of Miami.
Bryant says his time at FAMU has been a rollercoaster, having to adjust and play under three different head coaches. But in his senior season, he believes there were many positive moments, like when the Rattlers surpassed their three-game winning streak to win four.
“I contributed to a lot of games, I’m on the poster, MVP [and] All-MEAC. Those were my ups. The downs were when we were losing all the time, and people were criticizing us,” he said.
Bryant said the negative from the season was really a positive.
“It motivated us to go harder,” he said.
Every senior wants to end the season on a win. Bryant remembers all the years that great FAMU players finished their senior season on a loss. He says his goal was to change that.
The Rattlers didn’t pull through against BCU, and although Bryant has never won against them, he felt no regrets. He was an integral part of the game, intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble.
Part of Bryant’s motivation came from the goal of beating Akil Blount’s records. Blount, former inside linebacker, encouraged Bryant to beat his stats.
“We had a bet. Every year I had to beat him, and he had to beat me. Every year I was here, I beat his stats. That was my goal. You have to have somewhere to reach,” Bryant said.
Through all of his accomplishments this season, Bryant said he never let it get to his head.
“I have 71 tackles, but I wanted 100,” he said.
As one of the top players in the MEAC, he believes he brings athleticism, dedication, knowledge and discipline to the Rattlers.
“I don’t know what our secondary, or our team, would be without him,” said Terry Jefferson, a sophomore defensive back. “He is the battery that gets us running, as well as the big brother you need to keep you going … He’s a funny person but at the same time is very passionate in what he’s doing.”
Orlando McKinley, sophomore defensive back, said Bryant’s leadership goes beyond football.
“He’s a great motivator. A vocal leader of Jake’s caliber is virtually irreplaceable,” McKinley said.
Bryant encourages Jefferson and McKinley to achieve their own personal goals.
“I tell them to make sure you have an inspirational quote you can go by, and make it come true. My freshman year to my junior year, we were losing. Now my senior year, we have a good record for the MEAC,” Bryant said.
Next season, Jefferson plans to implement a few of the lessons he’s learned from Bryant, including finding ways to get around problems, out working everyone around him, competing at all times and putting in overtime and extra work when no one is looking.
“The results will show for itself just like they did for Jake,” Jefferson said.
After graduation next summer, Bryant is prepared to follow his lifelong dream to go to any NFL team that drafts him. His “plan B,” however, is to go to the Navy.
As a healthcare management student, he wants to open an adult day care or retirement center.
He’ll miss the atmosphere of playing in Bragg Memorial Stadium, and as always, he predicts the Rattlers will go undefeated.