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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Athlete to author: Exploring the journey that Brandin Bryant embarked on to publish his first book

Former FAU defensive lineman speaks on his life experiences that inspired him to write his first children’s book and his excitement for the future
Brandin+Bryant+at+his+old+stomping+grounds%2C+Howard+Schnellenberger+Field%2C+with+his+book+So%2C+you+want+to+be+an+athlete%3F
Clay Williams
Brandin Bryant at his old stomping grounds, Howard Schnellenberger Field, with his book “So, you want to be an athlete?”

Do you want to be an athlete? You’ll need to first put in the work during school. 

Former Florida Atlantic football player Brandin Bryant announced the release of his first children’s book, “So, You Want to be an Athlete,” in January. The book highlights the importance of maintaining a high academic standing during the rigorousness of a student athlete’s schedule. 

“I wanted to relay a message that I thought would be valuable for the next generation. I wanted to find a way to put it in words. When I did, that was my way to help give a gift to the world,” Bryant said.

The book was inspired by Bryant’s real life experiences, achievements in English classes, and on-field success leading to a career in the NFL.

“I’ve seen players that were very good, but they couldn’t figure it out in the classroom,” said Bryant. “If they maybe just knew at an earlier age how important school was and how these things catch up to you later in life. I just thought, ‘What cooler way to get that message out there than a children’s book.’”

Bryant grew up in an athletic household. His grandpa, Charles Bryant, is in the Nebraska University Football Hall of Fame; his dad and four uncles all played football. 

One of his best seasons at FAU was in his senior year of  2015, where he finished with 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and 35 total tackles.

Brandin Bryant throws Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans to the ground during a game on Sept. 13., 2014 (Michelle Friswell)

“[He] was very productive, a playmaker, team player, very humble and skilled. Probably one of the most skilled defensive linemen I’ve ever coached… He was a guy who was very productive for our defense and made a lot of plays for our team,” said Terrance Jamison, Bryant’s defensive line coach at FAU from 2014-16.

Bryant reminisced about growing up in a neighborhood community and being involved in a Boys and Girls Club. The club is a nationwide volunteer organization with the goal of enabling youth to reach their full potential as “productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

“You got to the Boys and Girls Club, and they’d put a ball in your hand. It was like a recess until your parents came and picked you up. I ran track as a kid, I played football and wrestled a bit as well,” Bryant said. 

Although he was a productive player on the field, he was also a productive student in the classroom.

He graduated from FAU with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Media Studies and received the “Scholar Baller” academic award for student-athletes with a 3.0 GPA or higher. 

“He was always a good student, made good grades, and didn’t show up late to class,” said Jamison. “[He was] a model student-athlete for us, so that content in the book made sense for him to write a book like that because he was a prime example of a young man that achieved on and off the field.”

During his time at FAU, Lynne Hahn was his interpretation of poetry professor. She sparked his interest in poetry as a writing style and impacted his decision to create the book in the form of one long poem. 

“He’s a real testament to FAU academically and the types of students they produce and nurture. As well as a testament to great college athletes,” said Kristin Hahn, Lynne’s daughter and FAU alumni. 

FAU has a Gordon Rule that requires certain undergrad students to have four “writing across the curriculum (WAC)” courses with 24,000 words written at the end of the semester. Despite the stressful classes, Bryant said they helped strengthen his writing and taught him what to do when dealing with writer’s block.

It wasn’t until years later in his life, during COVID-19, that he decided to use his excess time to fulfill his dream of writing a book. 

“I began to write this series. I ended up writing maybe seven or eight books that were intended to be one,” said Bryant. “After I finished, I began to get suggestions and edits. I realized I could turn this into an entire series.”

Bryant will continue the series with books that follow the same general title idea.

Bryant flipping through the page that shares photos of his childhood, as well as his career as a football player. (Clay Williams)

“It’s not surprising that he had the capacity and forethought to put something like that together. I was very impressed,” said Jamison. “We bought three copies, one for my three-year-old son and two other copies for family members.”

Others shared their joy in the brilliance of his book. Kristin Hahn loved the cuteness and message of the book so much that she bought ten copies and asked Bryant to sign them before she gifted them to her friends’ children. 

Bryant intends to make writing a “lifelong passion.” He has plans to write other projects geared toward middle school children and adults. 

“He always had a smile on his face. Never really caught Brandin on a bad day,” said Jamison. 

Bryant is entirely self-published, but Palmetto Publishing is the company that helped him jump-start the project. They answered questions about the publishing process for him but didn’t take any of the profits or royalties and put him in contact with the illustrator, Chad Thompson.

“I’ve done a few books for Palmetto in the past. They took on Brandin’s book, and they thought we would be a good fit. I was quite happy about that because I’m a football fan, and he’s a big football guy,” said Thompson. “They kind of put me with Brandin, maybe based on that connection. But they thought my style would be a good fit for his book.”

Thompson worked for Disney as an animator for seven years and has continued to follow an animated art style. 

Bryant explained that he sent Thompson a vivid description of how he wanted the graphics, including all of the small details, such as what the characters are wearing and the room’s color. 

“He was awesome. He made my job easy because his descriptions of the characters were so good that we didn’t need many revisions. Certain things like the hairstyle of expression were revised, but he did a great job of laying out what he wanted,” said Thompson. “Brandin emphasized diversity within the characters as well, and I really appreciated that touch.”

The entire artwork process took around eight weeks, which Thompson said is typical for a children’s book. 

“It ended up being better than I had even imagined it could be,” Bryant said.

When the book’s manuscript was complete, he reached out to Lynne Hahn to have a cup of coffee. She gladly assisted him by providing some suggestions and helped with the poem’s flow.

Clay Williams

“When he told her that he was about to publish a book, she was so proud of him and got tears in her eyes,” said Kristin Hahn. 

Bryant is excited to announce that he plans to create a book in his eight-part series dedicated to the school. 

“I have it done, but I’m working on copyright to make sure I follow those laws, and I want to present it as a gift to the school as part of my future plans.”

Megan Bruinsma is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @megan_bruinsma.

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About the Contributor
Michelle Friswell, Associate Editor
Michelle is a studio art major with a minor in communication. She joined the UP in 2011 as a photographer and has held positions such as photo editor and creative director.

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