Cover32/Ravens staff has chosen two players, WR Ryan Switzer being one, from all of the draft-eligible NCAA football athletes, ones that could potentially fill Baltimore Ravens needs, and are following their journey to Sundays in this series.
“I guess God just intended me to be athletic, because ever since I was little, I had a ball in my hands, and it didn’t matter what kind of ball: soccer ball, baseball, basketball or football. I mean, I just love ball and that’s really all I [have known].”
Ryan Switzer is a baller.
Not in the uptown, upscale, upper-accessorized sense.
In the traditional, American sense.
The 5’9″, 170 lb. wideout from the University of North Carolina has become accustomed to wanting the ball, having the ball, going with the ball.
He has grown comfortable with it. Like another appendage.
And he told Cover32/Ravens that he is ready for the challenges and chores that await, because he has always had to face challenges and chores head-on.
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“I grew up in Charleston, West Virginia. Grew up with four sisters, both parents, still married. People outside looking in, they think that it happened overnight. They just think we snap our fingers and we are where we are in life, and you know, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. ”
This reflection is not only true with Switzer’s athletic career, it is true with his family story, too, as he will discuss. First, the career:
“Me being from West Virginia, it was just a little bit different. I went through a little bit of a different recruiting process, a little bit different rise to the top,” Switzer explained. “Me and my dad had to be a little bit more proactive in our (college) recruiting and getting my name out there and my tape to schools, making sure that they knew who I was. We also had to travel a lot. We were requested by a lot of teams that wanted to see me in person. They didn’t trust the West Virginia competition and they didn’t trust a lot of things. So you know I was fortunate enough to have a dad who invested his time and cared about me that much, where he would take me to these places. But it’s been a journey, man. I stayed the same throughout, the same person. Now as I was back then, I was that same hard working individual.”
Switzer saw a lot of success as a running back at his High School in Charleston, George Washington High. He was all-state three times, the West Virginia player of the year twice, and won championships in basketball as well as two track sprint events (4×100, 4×200). He had a whopping 109 touchdowns in his prep career. Yet, recruiters did not trust the 3A level of competition in West Virginia, and this is what he is referencing.
Boy, did he prove them wrong.
He stormed onto the scene his Freshman year at UNC, making the All-American team as a returner, getting 5 touchdowns off of returns.
He stepped off of the field as a Senior holding all central Tar Heel receiving records except one.
Switzer at UNC…
1st in receptions.
1st in receiving yards.
1st in punt return yards.
1st in punt return TDs.
4th in receiving TDs. pic.twitter.com/J2wXz9WxA6
— Taylor Vippolis (@tvippolis) December 31, 2016
Now, the proving process begins all over again.
“You know, it is a little head scratching at times. I had someone tell me the other day, what my projection is, what I’m going to run [in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine], this and that. People tell me what I look like I’m running on film. And man, I honestly would rather it be that way than if they project me to run a great time and I didn’t live up to that. I’d rather them project me to run a slow time and me blow that out of the water which is what I’m going to do.”
“I think, in the last four years ever since I stepped onto a division one field, I’ve led the country in 70 plus (yard) all purpose plays,” Switzer explained when asked. “I have yet to be caught from behind in college.”
That means, Seminoles couldn’t catch him from behind.
Hurricanes couldn’t catch him from behind.
Fighting Irish couldn’t catch him from behind.
Cardinals couldn’t catch him from behind.
Clemson Tigers couldn’t catch him from behind.
“Like I said, I’d rather have it this way than not living up — I’d rather exceed the expectations than not live up to them.”
So, is competition what drives him? What gives him his motivation?
“I’ve got to give the credit to my parents. They really set a foundation for me and expectations on how I was supposed to act and how I was supposed to… You know, become
the man I was supposed to grow into,” Switzer said. “Being with someone for 30, 40 years, you choose to love them every day because after that honeymoon stage, the passion and the infatuation, you end up having to choose to stick with that person. There comes a point in time where every couple thinks about quitting, and at some point in time you choose to love that person. I don’t care what anybody says. That’s what my standards are. That’s where my morals are and I think I can translate that over to life, just continuing to stick with the process no matter how tough or hard it gets, continue to move forward and stick with what I know and what I’ve been taught.”
Describing himself as such a blue-collar hard worker belies the jubilance that was easily observed on the field between Switzer and his teammates. It was hard to watch him at UNC and not envision him as BMOC, walking across the Quad with throngs of high-fives and blinking eyes. “I hate to be a disappointment, but to be honest, when I started making the plays and becoming who I am, I was the type of guy that would have his headphones on and his hood over his head walking to class,” Switzer confessed. “I wasn’t very social. And I didn’t really open up, I didn’t really make myself known to the student population or anything like that. I was pretty secluded. I just I went about my business, man. I went to class. I got off campus. I was either at the stadium or at my place. I think I really was the definition in college of ‘just being about his business.’ And when I had the hood on and no one could recognize my face; I’d blend in with the average population; I don’t stand out in terms of height or anything like that and I think that was a big factor.”
“But in terms of my teammates, I find so much joy in the game of football. It just really brings the best out of me. And to play with the guys that I met and grew close with at Carolina, a lot of them are going to be in my wedding. A lot of them I’ll be friends with for the rest of my life. It was a great pleasure of mine. Something that I’ll cherish.”
“But I was always energetic. I will always talk it. Me and Mack (Hollis, WR)obviously being the big ego guys on the field, we set off each other well and brought the best out of each other.”
“I wasn’t someone who was ever too negative. I always kept things in perspective and realized that I was being looked at by our teammates. But other than that I there wasn’t much to me. I was about my business and I love football and that’s all I really knew.”
As for the potential distractions that come with the big time, Switzer remains level-headed.
“So, High School, there were not too many distractions. You’re in the same place, with the same people you’ve known, doing the same routine. You get into college and it gets a little bit different. You start meeting new people. And I saw it, from year one, I saw people… their motivation dropped, their priority got out of line, and that’s when things became an issue. But for me it’s never been an issue. It’s never been a problem. I’ve just always had a sharp mental focus. And such a desire to want to be the best that I can be and put everything I have into this game, that everything else is miniscule. Like you said, for the next level the distractions are going to multiply. I feel comfortable in the foundation that my
parents have built in me. And the expectations I set for myself. The money that’s involved..obviously it’s not going to be any women, because I’ve got my soul mate (his fiance Gabie Dinsbeer), so that’s another distraction that’s down. Trust and believe I’m going to be able to devote all my attention to being the best I can be on the football field and making sure that I make the most of the opportunity I’ve been given.”
In about one week, in Indianapolis, the football world will know a lot more about Ryan Switzer.
“I am someone who grew up in a neighborhood, in a town, in a state where it might not very likely that a guy has the success I had at the division one level and the opportunity to make a name for himself in the National Football League. So I’m just sticking with believing in myself and believing in the power God gave me, and believing in the work ethic that He gave me to make me who I am. ”