Daron Bryden, one of Connecticut’s top quarterbacks for the last three seasons, has backed his bags and left the state, his father, Craig, announced on social media Tuesday morning.
The senior, who would have been a four-year starter at Bloomfield this fall, started his senior year of high school in Washington, Okla. this week.
“Daron is officially a Washington Warrior!” Craig Bryden announced in a post on Facebook. “…Very exciting to spend time with Daron here for his senior year. Great School!”
“It wasn’t an easy decision for him and us for Daron to leave Bloomfield because we love Bloomfield. He loves his Bloomfield coaches, teammates, teachers, friends and community. He’s still a Warhawk Pride for life!”
Though Craig Bryden could not be reached for comment on the decision, Bloomfield coach Ty Outlaw said Tuesday that the Brydens visited his home last week to inform him of their decision. Outlaw said Craig Bryden’s contacts as a private quarterbacks coach helped in the move to Oklahoma.
Daron Bryden addressed his move on Twitter late Tuesday evening, saying playing his senior year was the impetus for the move.
“”My senior year is very important to me and this decision was the best thing to be made,” he wrote. “I’ve always had the drive to be great. I appreciate all the love and support. No interviews please. #RespectMyDecision.”
for everyone asking yes i am attending washington high school in oklahoma. my senior year is very important to me and this decision was the best thing to be made. i’ve always had the drive to be great. i appreciate all the love and support. no interviews please #RespectMyDecision
— Daron Bryden 2 (@DaronQB) August 25, 2020
Oklahoma is one of 14 states nationwide that have elected to start the fall season on time as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bryden joins a small but successful Washington High School program. The school is 30 miles south of Oklahoma City and has a 244 student population. It played for Oklahoma’s Class 2A state title in 2017 and has averaged over 10 wins over last six years.
Oklahoma, which has seen a large spike in COVID-19 cases over the last month, including 4,811 over the last seven days (122 per 100,000), kicks off its football season this weekend.
Connecticut, which has reported 744 cases over the last seven days (21 per 100,000), has yet to make a final decision on playing contact football.
“He wants to play his senior year,” Outlaw said of Bryden, who committed to play at Stony Brook earlier this summer. “It was looking like he wasn’t going to get the opportunity to play, and it still not looking like we’re going to play. They saw the writing on the wall and had a backup plan if Connecticut didn’t play.
“So he did what he had to do. It was a decision his family made and had to make. I don’t blame them. I give him my blessing. I hope it works out for him.”
Bryden isn’t the first Connecticut player to look for opportunities beyond the state’s borders. He isn’t even the first Bloomfield player. Outlaw said junior starting defensive lineman Aaron Jones left for Texas three weeks ago.
“They’re not the only ones. Guys all over the country are leaving their home states for another opportunity to play,” Outlaw said, using California’s decision to play in 2021 as an example.
But Bryden might be the highest-profile Connecticut athlete to leave the state, so far.
He was a Class S All-Stater and an honorable mention New Haven Register All-State selection last year as a junior.
Bryden, who has been in the state’s youth football consciousness for the past decade due to his high recruiting profile and active social media accounts, led the Warhawks to a Class S championship as a sophomore in 2018 and back to the final as a junior last year, where they lost to Sheehan.
He’s thrown for 7,326 yards and 98 touchdowns against 24 interceptions during his three seasons at Bloomfield, putting him among the all-time state leaders, according to the state record book.
He was on pace to break the state’s passing touchdown record of 113 set by Tanner Kingsley of Woodland in 2013 and was 3,441 yards away from the all-time passing yard mark record set by Casey Cochran of New London and Masuk, set in 2011.
“That’s the upsetting part,” Outlaw said. “We didn’t even have a chance to break state records.”
Though Connecticut’s proposed, coronavirus-reduced schedule would have made surpassing those marks more difficult, there has been no guarantees that the state would even get to play a football season, which rankled Outlaw — especially when he looks at the state’s low COVID-19 numbers compared to the rest of the country.
“You would think people would be trying to come to Connecticut to play, rather than leave because of COVID,” he said. “Connecticut has better numbers than most states, if not all the states.”
The CIAC’s official fall plan, released July 31, has been in limbo for the past three weeks as the state’s governing body attempts align it with the state’s Department of Health guidance. The DPH has recommended against playing contact football this fall.
“This 2020, man. It’s been a doozy,” Outlaw said.
This article has updated, Aug. 25, 6:50 p.m. to reflect Bryden’s comments on Twitter.