Former Cincinnati quarterback Ben Bryant is headed to the Big Ten.
Bryant, who started for the Bearcats last year after multiple seasons backing up Desmond Ridder, announced Wednesday that he will play his final season of college football at Northwestern. The move to Evanston is a return close to home for Bryant, who is from La Grange, Illinois.
Thank you Cincinnati for all you have done for me. You will always be home. Thank you Coach Fitz for this incredible opportunity. Let's get to work pic.twitter.com/zVsUBcMNbB
— Ben Bryant (@benbryant_6) May 3, 2023
Northwestern is coming off a miserable 1-11 season that featured three different quarterbacks getting significant snaps. Ryan Hilinski started for much of the year, but Brendan Sullivan and Cole Freeman also saw action. The results were not pretty. Those three combined to throw for 2,411 yards and 10 touchdowns with 15 interceptions while completing 59% of their attempts.
Bryant, who has one year of eligibility remaining, could represent an upgrade for the Wildcats. Bryant signed with Cincinnati in 2018 and spent three seasons as Ridder’s backup. Looking for an opportunity to start, Bryant transferred to Eastern Michigan in 2021 and threw for 3,121 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions for the Eagles.
Following that year in the MAC, Bryant transferred back to Cincinnati. With Ridder in the NFL, Bryant was able to beat out Evan Prater for the starting job. In 11 starts, Bryant threw for 2,732 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 61.2% of his attempts. Bryant suffered a foot injury and missed UC’s final three games, including the American Athletic Conference title game.
After the 2022 season, Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell left UC to take the Wisconsin job. New head coach Scott Satterfield added Emory Jones (formerly of Florida and Arizona State) via the transfer portal. Bryant and Jones were competing for first-team reps during spring practice with Bryant even starting the Bearcats’ spring game.
However, Bryant ended up putting his name into the transfer portal on April 20 and decided on Northwestern a few weeks later. With Bryant moving on, Jones becomes the favorite to start for Cincinnati in the program’s first season in the Big 12.
Bryant was one of the better quarterbacks available on the transfer market. Other quarterbacks with starting experience still available include Casey Thompson (Nebraska), Payton Thorne (Michigan State) and T.J. Finley (Auburn).