Playing quarterback is a position that not only takes a lot skill, but also a work ethic to want to study the position and get better every day. For Bloomfield’s Daron Bryden, it’s been something he’s been doing for the better part of the last decade.
“I started playing football when I was six,” he confirmed earlier this week. “I didn’t play quarterback then, I played safety. The next year, I ended up moving to quarterback and I just fell in love with it.”
That love quickly turned into a desire to get better and from there, Bryden wanted to do everything he could to do just that, turning to his father to help him with that goal.
“My dad took me to different trainers,” he explained. “We went to a lot of camps and I started picking up on everything I learned.”
Those camps helped and it only made Daron’s desire to get better grow even more. That’s when his father also got into the process, which has only brought the two of them even closer together.
“He ended up becoming a quarterback coach himself,” Daron said. “He’s been able to tune me up and make me the best I can be. We’re really close and it’s a good feeling to have him by my side.”
As high school arrived, Daron enrolled at Bloomfield and as a true freshman, immediately won the starting job. He was effective, throwing for more than 1,600-yards and 19-touchdowns and only built on that performance his sophomore year, throwing for 37-TD’s, while leading Bloomfield to a state championship.
This season, his junior year, the Tomahawks are 8-0 and Bryden has started to break records. After setting the Bloomfield all-time TD-pass record in a 6-touchdown performance in early October, he found himself breaking the school’s all-time passing record just two-weeks later. In a season filled with personal wins, to him, those personal records aren’t as important as team performance. Just listen to his answer when asked what meant more to him.
“Winning the state championship,” he said without hesitation. “That’s a really hard thing to do and it’s one of the best feelings in the world to be able to win the state title, not a lot of people get to do that. Breaking the passing record was a good feeling, but winning the state championship tops that.”
And possessing that team mindset, Bryden quickly pointed to the goals that are still out there for Bloomfield this season.
“This season has been really good so far and I think our team is performing really well,” he said. “We have our biggest game of the year coming up against Berlin this week. Our main goal is to win the state championship, so we are going to keep working until we get that accomplished.”
Bloomfield runs a spread offense and it’s a system that allows Bryden to showcase his strengths each and every week.
“The spread is my favorite,” he said. “I’m able to throw the ball, able to show my arm strength and also show that I am able to run when needed. Being in the spread, it’s hard for teams to stop it, especially when you have five or six skilled players, they really can’t focus on just one.”
Despite bringing a lot of talent to the position, Bryden points to a few intangible traits which allow him and his team to have success; leadership and composure.
“I don’t really get rattled in any situation, even in clutch moments,” he said. “I’m always that calm guy that everyone looks to. I’m just able to lead the team throughout the whole game, which is a good thing for a quarterback to have. I feel like a team can always feed off of that energy.”
It’s that combination that has schools around the region looking at Bryden, as he has started to hit the heart of recruiting. Just in the last several weeks, he’s made trips to UConn, Syracuse and Boston College. What’s his mindset heading into the process?
“I know it’s going to be a long one,” he confirmed. “It will take some serious decision-making, talking with my family and coaches and ultimately doing what is best for me. I know I’m prepared for it.”
What’s the most important thing to him when finding the right fit?
“Somewhere that makes me feel like I’m at home, where the coaches show a lot of love and the environment makes me feel comfortable,” he said. “Obviously I’m going to be there for four years of my life, so I just want to be where I feel comfortable.”
Being the local school, Bryden has been to UConn several times. He’s thown with former Huskies quarterback David Pindell, attended games at The Rent and gotten to know the coaching staff.
“I like UConn a lot,” he said. “I think the campus is really nice and I like the football facilities. The indoor practice facility is great and is a good thing to have in the offseason; even when it’s cold, you can just work out whenever. The coaches are great, they show me a lot of love and I’m just waiting to see what happens from here.”
The Huskies program will be making a big move after this season, their last in the AAC. Recruits have taken notice and as Bryden says, the move to independence is only a positive.
“I like how they are moving [from the American],” he said. “They are going to play higher level teams and I think that’s going to help with recruiting. A lot of kids are going to want that exposure to be able to play against better teams. That’s a great thing to have.”