A rising star this year in recruiting, Ryans stands a shade under 6-2. He made nine tackles against Clay-Chalkville Friday night to help his team to a 27-0 win in a first round 6A state playoff game.
"He's the anchor of our defense," said veteran Tigers head coach Willie Ford of Ryans, who now has 115 tackles in eleven games.
"He sets the tone every game. He's a tremendous athlete. Smart. Knows football. He's one of the guys we really depend on."
Ryans shows good lateral movement, has good instincts, is a good open field tackler and plays well on special teams. He even does some long-snapping. Ryans has an offer from Alabama, and is a good shot to wear crimson come August of 2002.
To the categories:
SENIORS WHO SHINED: Ryans has lots of teammates who could play somewhere at the next level, and we'll mention a few from each class. Twelfth-graders who stood out included defensive end Tabaris Johnson (6-3, 250), linebacker JaMichael Rogers (6-3, 200), defensive lineman Jamal Russell (6-3, 270), and running backs Dee Moss (6-0, 180) and Clyde Allen (6-0, 185).
Clay-Chalkville featured highly-regarded quarterback Justin Standridge (6-3, 204) who was knocked out of the game for a while.
Other Cougars who shined were LB Cedric Merritt (5-7, 203) RB/DB Kyle Ojeda (5-10, 175), DB and relief QB Justin Roberson (6-1, 183) and WR/DB Michael Conners (5-11, 170). We're guessing that TE Josh Cheek (6-6, 233) is practicing with the C-C basketball team this week.
JUNIORS TO WATCH: For Clay-Chalkville, DB Matt Elkins (5-6, 148), DB Clayton Blow (5-6, 155) and RB Phillip Green (5-7, 167) all had their moments.
For Lanier, remember the names of DBs Antonio Nelson (6-3, 175) and Corey White (6-2, 210). Antonio returned a pair of interceptions for scores and White ran one in himself. Man-mountain DL Mario Wormley is 6-6, 305.
SUPER SOPHS: For the Purple Tigers, TE Demetris Edwards will grow some more but is now 6-1, 200. We also noticed FB Korey Rhodes (5-10, 215) and OL Sylvester Buchannan (5-9, 260). The Cougars got good efforts from OL Nathan Farrow (6-2, 253) and RB Terry Burrell (5-8, 151). LB Caleb Waid (5-9, 196) had some nice hits.
JUST A FRESHMAN: He had an up and down night hands-wise, but Cougar ninth-grader Terrell Smith is already 6-2, 195 and his career in Chalkville bears watching.
HOW BOUT THEM BURGERS: Around a year ago, a Birmingham Newspaper had a contest to find the Magic City's best burger. The Stadium Grill finished in the top five, and FNL got its long-awaited chance to check out the fare Friday. Located on fourth avenue just across the street from Snitz-Snyder stadium (hence the name), the Stadium Grill serves up a thick and juicy burger not too-well done with some tasty special sauce. The onion rings were crispy and had just the right amount of grease, and when you toss in a thick chocolate shake and only spend six bucks, three words apply: We'll be back. The shake and rings were reminiscent of the Varsity in Atlanta, and the burger was better.
LINE OF THE NIGHT: FNL had the chance Saturday to see James Gregory, who is known as "the funniest man in America." He is funny but we must admit we also stifled a laugh the night before when we heard this from a reasonably attractive middle-aged lady while enjoying our pre-game burger: "When we were dating , he never took me anywhere to eat but the stadium grill, and he was for Auburn, and I still married his goofy butt!"
NEVER TOO EARLY: We thought it interesting that, as the clock began winding down, the Clay-Chalkville band began playing "Jingle Bell Rock." Hey, nothing like getting in the holiday spirit.
NEXT WEEK: The Castille brothers, Simeon and Tim, will host the state's top junior quarterback when Jamarcus Russell and Williamson High of Mobile visit Briarwood Christian in round two of the 5A playoffs.