Going from sitting on the sidelines for an entire season to starting every game the next, Bryan London II, redshirt junior linebacker, is back with determination for yet another year.
London has been playing football his entire life, so having to start university by sitting out as a redshirt was not easy for him..
“My parents picked me up a lot of the time,” London said. “It was just hard redshirting, and I was just down on myself. My parents definitely kept me up.”
During his freshman year as a redshirt, the Bobcats did not have the successful season that both the team and London had hoped for.
“I’ve learned how much I love football,” London said. “That redshirt year was hard, not playing. We went 3-9 that year and I just thought I wasn’t good enough to help the team out. That kind of hurt me, but made me work on myself more.”
Working on himself is exactly what London did, and before he knew it, after a season of sitting out, he finally had his time to make a mark on the field.
London started in his first game at the beginning of the 2016 season, and would go to start in every game.
After just one season, London was ranked third in the nation with 11.8 tackles and 6.9 solo tackles per game, led the Sun Belt Conference in solo tackles, recorded a career-best 19 tackles and forced a total of two fumbles.
“Something that I felt I did good last season was just doing what the coaches told me and making the plays I was supposed to make,” London said. “Last year, everyone thinks I did something special, but I just did what I was supposed to do.”
During his first year back on the field, London not only impressed everyone with the statistics he made, but he also proved how powerful his mental abilities were after the Bobcats had an even worse season than the one prior—going 2-10.
“My greatest accomplishment last season was just being able to finish and staying positive throughout the whole year,” London said. “When you win two games, it’s hard to go out there every day and every game to give it your best effort, so it was good that I did.”
While many admired the resume of his football career accomplishments in just one season, London continued to stay level-headed and have the mindset of growing even more each and every day.
“You have to give up a lot of time just to be good,” London said. “To be great, you have to give up even more time. Knowing where I want to be in life, I just have to think of the bigger picture.”
As the 2017 season quickly approaches and with the first kickoff just around the corner, London believes with a new season comes new opportunities.
“For the upcoming season, I’m most looking forward to just getting the chance to go out there and erase that 2-10 record from last year,” London said. “Just being able to put a better foot forward this year.”
London also admits that the team is working better together to strive toward making this season the best one yet.
“Personally, I’m just working on myself and working on being a leader,” London said. “Just as a team, I feel like we’re working on comradery—just like a bond and not taking offense when someone calls you out. There’s a lot more accountability on the team.”
London’s team goals go beyond a better season record.
“As a team goal, I want to win more,” London said. “Not necessarily a win, but there’s a jump that has to take place. You’re not just going from 2-10 to 12-0, but just people doing more of the right things.”
Along with the team on his mind, London wants to further his personal game as well.
“A personal goal, I just want to make more plays,” London said. “Everyone talks about the tackles I made, but I want to make bigger smash plays for my teammates.”
London’s personal goals are not only being reached by what he is striving to put on the field, but a large part of it comes from what happens off the field for him.
“Little things that I do now more is just take care of my body,” London said. “I’m always in the training room—stretching, rolling, ice baths and just doing a lot more film studying and stuff like that.”
Although the season has not quite begun and the future of the Bobcats cannot be predicted, London’s optimism stems from a piece of advice he once received.
“Coach McCray always tells us to have the best day of your life today,” London said. “I just take that like when you put your feet on the ground, just attack that day every day and try to be better today than you were yesterday.”