Ryans' U.S. Tour Begins Monday

Rewards for an amazing career and an impeccable spirit will be arriving in droves for Alabama senior linebacker DeMeco Ryans. The finalist for the Lott, Butkus, Bednarik and Draddy awards/trophies will be on a whirlwind tour next week and will hopefully pick up some hardware on the way.

"Winning," Ryans answered when asked if there was one thing he was most looking forward to in his travels. "I'd be so happy just to win one of them. All of these are prestigious awards. Winning any of them would be great."

"I haven't been to any of the places," he said. "I'll be going to all these places for the first time. It's going to be a great experience, representing the University of Alabama and hopefully I can come back with at least one of those awards."

The Bronko Nagurski Award is given annually to the nation's outstanding defensive player by the FWAA/Charlotte. That award presentation will be made Monday night.

The Draddy, aka the "Academic Heisman" is Ryans' Tuesday night stop. Ryans is a finalist for the prestigious trophy, to be presented at the annual banquet of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. Tide Head Coach Mike Shula will also be making the trip to New York. Shula indicated Ryans incredible and growing list of accomplishments is helping on the recruiting trail.

"There's been a lot of people on the road talking about the awards and what a year he had," Shula said. "We've seen some of his high school coaches and their chests are stuck out, and they should be."

Not only is Ryans up for the award in New York, but for Alabama star Cornelius Bennett is being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame at the same event.

"I'm going to try to get to one, possibly three places," Shula said Saturday. "I know I'm going to New York and possibly Orlando. Did y'all get his itinerary? It's about three pages."

The melding of the two events involving Bennett and Ryans is fitting. Shula and others put Ryans in the mix of the most elite Alabama linebackers every to play for the Tide.

Shula said, "It's hard to say, I'm biased. Joe Kines, when I first got here, we talked about our personnel and he said when it's all said and done he's going to be like Derrick and Biscuit. My eyes got big and of course I said, 'Now wait a minute.'

"I would put him up there with those two. He's a little bit different because those guys rushed the passer a lot more than DeMeco. DeMeco can do that as we know, but he didn't have as many sacks as those guys."

The Bednarik and Butkus awards are both given out in Orlando, and the Bednarik (for the nation's best defensive player) is a part of ESPN's college football awards show from Orlando Thursday night, which Ryans will attend. He will be in Orlando again for the Butkus presentations on Saturday.

The tour rounds out with the presentation of the Lott Trophy from Newport Beach, Calif. on Sunday the 11th.

"It's very overwhelming," Ryans said. "It's a lot of travel in a short amount of days but it's something I look forward to and I know it will be a great experience."

Ryans was named first team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association last week. Ryans is a three-time Academic All-Southeastern Conference selection. He has a 3.7 grade point average as a management major and will be graduated in December. He participates in the "Read Across America" program and volunteers at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuscaloosa.

Even as he exits his career among Alabama greats with awards and trips galore, Ryans was focused on putting his football team in the nation's elite with a bowl win and 10-win season after Saturday's practice. "Only so many teams can have the chance to get 10 wins this season, and for us to go out there and be with that elite group would be great for this program. Everybody's talking about the Cotton Bowl and Dallas, but it doesn't matter where we go, to be honest."

BamaMag Top Stories