"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
I have three reasons for why Mr. Ryan will not only be the biggest surprise in this class, but also the most reliable and most consistent part of our defense in 3-4 years.
(1) Late growth spurt. It has been mentioned numerous times that he experienced substantial physical growth before his senior year, as he now stands about 6'2'' 220ish. He had a breakout senior season as a result, overshadowing injured OSU commit Scott McVey. Is this not the definition of a sleeper--a guy who experiences a growth spurt late in his high school career? Provided that he can maintain his weight and grow into his body, this is a guy who definitely fits the mold of a big ten middle linebacker. I bet OSU is kicking themselves for not leaving room for Ryan, who I'd take over McVey in a heartbeat.
(2) He's a true linebacker. Taking a look at our projected starters for the 2010 season, we have Jonas Mouton, a high school safety who still hasn't seemed to grasp the role of linebacker as a fifth-year senior and Obi Ezeh, a guy who has inexplicably started for FOUR straight years when he came out of high school as a two-star fullback. And now we have Ryan, a true linebacker who won't spend a year or two deciding whether or not he's a safety or linebacker. He will (likely) come in as a middle 'backer and stay that way for four or five years.
(3) St. Ignatius High School. This is the most important piece of the puzzle, in my opinion. I played against them three times in high school, so I know first hand how these guys play and how they are coached. Chuck Kyle is one of the absolute best teachers of football in the entire state and you know for sure that they play elite competition year-in and year-out. They may not turn out BCS talent every year like Glenville (which is about as overrated a high school football program there is in Ohio), but they play a very physical brand of football that has them competing for a state title every year. Ryan will come in knowing and understanding the fundamentals of football and playing linebacker, so there will be no need to tear him down and build him back up like some other players we recruit. Also, you'll know that this guy won't have any academic issues as Iggy is one of the best high schools in the entire state.
I do have two concerns that could lead me to be wrong about this guy:
(1) I have heard that he was recruited as a Quick, which leaves me scratching my head since Ryan seems like a more natural fit as a MLB. If anyone could clarify this it would be greatly appreciated.
(2) In his film, I noticed that Ryan often played as an OLB in a three-stack scheme. My high school (Cincinnati St. Xavier) played this scheme when I was there, and it is built for the OLB to make plays. I am concerned that his numbers might be inflated since a 3-3-5 is built to have the outside linebackers go up against TEs and RBs in blitzing situations. I worry that he could have trouble adjusting to a more conventional scheme in college.
I'm excited to see what Ryan looks like when he reports over the summer. I could see him redshirting in order to bulk up but then again we could be in dire need of linebackers this season depending on how Mouton and Ezeh perform.