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Cobee Bryant had monster day for Kansas football. There was special meaning behind it

Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

Kansas cornerback Cobee Bryant had time to take a call from his biggest fan before meeting with the media after the Jayhawks’ 38-27 Big 12 opening victory over BYU Saturday afternoon at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

“I actually talked to my mom after the game,” Bryant, a 6-foot, 170-pound junior said of Tammy Ingram, who watched on TV back home in Evergreen, Alabama, as her son emerged as one of the day’s defensive stars for the 4-0 Jayhawks.

“I said, ‘Mom did you like that?’ She said, ‘Son, I didn’t know you could hit like that.’ I said, ‘Mom I didn’t know I could hit like that either,’’’ Bryant added with a smile.

He separated the ball from BYU wide receiver Parker Kingston on an 11-yard sweep on BYU’s second play from scrimmage. Bryant, after the hit, scooped the ball and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 KU lead.

Later in the third quarter, a Bryant interception stopped a BYU drive with the Jayhawks leading 28-20. He caught the ball at the KU 12 and returned it 24 yards.

The early forced fumble and ensuing TD run had to be considered one of the top plays in college football Saturday.

“I knew at that time I had to make a big-time play, but I didn’t know he fumbled,” Bryant said. “I picked my head up and saw the ball rolling. I had a little shock moment. I blacked out a little bit when I saw it. I said, ‘Now I’ve got to pick it up and run.’’’

Bryant wanted to drop to his knees in the end zone as a tribute to his aunt — she recently passed away and her memorial service was Saturday — but his Jayhawk teammates were too enthused to let that happen.

“I tried to do a celebration in the end zone,” Bryant said. “All my teammates started pushing me down. I said, ‘Whoa whoa whoa.’ When I saw coach (Lance) Leipold, I saw him smiling. His smile is full of energy. It was awesome.”

Bryant spoke to his mom before the game because he’s been feeling so depressed about the recent passing of his aunt.

“My mom tipped me off before the game. She said, ‘Do this for your Tee Tee, your auntie,’’’ Bryant said. “I’ve been down about it. When I scored I said, ‘Tee Tee, I love you.’’’

KU safety Kenny Logan, who had a pick six for a touchdown that gave KU a 21-17 lead early in the third quarter, said Bryant’s early score truly fired up the team, which handed BYU its first loss of the season (against three wins).

“It was definitely exciting to see. Everybody is always trying to knock him about his weight.” Logan said of Bryant, who weighs 170. “He plays bigger than what he is. I believe in him. I’m excited for him this year.”

Logan noted that despite being a little undersized at cornerback, Bryant “is a guy who always has had an edge to him. Now that he has confidence he’s built on that, and that is who he is, too.”

Yes, Bryant is confident.

KU coach Leipold discovered that on Saturday morning when he and Logan competed against each other in Rock, Paper, Scissors at the team hotel.

Let Leipold explain.

“Today right before we went in meetings I challenged him to Rock, Paper, Scissors. Of course he beats me two out of three,” Leipold said. “Then he goes running in (the meeting). He’ll compete in anything at any time. He likes to win.

“He took the challenge. He didn’t get to start a week ago. For him, the lightest guy on the field probably makes the biggest hit of the day. For him to really set the tone says a lot about him. He’s been making big plays here three years. It’s now great to see.”

Bryant was pleased to defeat his coach in a fun competition to start his day Saturday.

Asked Leipold’s reaction to losing, Bryant said: “You know, coach Leipold has a little fun side to him. He went, ‘Oh, you got me.’ Now he has a new game plan for me.”