Scout Rating: ***
Scout Rank: #30 MLB
Size: 6-1, 240 pounds
Hometown: Lancaster, OH
High School: Lancaster High School
Accolades: Ranked by ESPN as the #34 inside linebacker in the nation...middle Georgia player of the year, 4-AA player of the year, Atlanta Journal Constitution all-state and the 2A state defensive player of the year.…first-team all-state…recruited to NC State by offensive line coach Don Horton.
Stats: As a senior, Cheek totaled 70 tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions while also serving as Lancaster's starting quarterback. As a junior, he tallied 88 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions en route to all-conference, all-district and all-state honors.
Commit Date: 5/23/2008
Recruiting Scene: Cheek landed early offers from NC State, Cincinnati, Maryland, Akron, Ohio University, Eastern Michigan, Marshall, and Kent State during the spring evaluation period. He made his way to Raleigh for a spring practice and was back in town for the Wolfpack's Red-White game. After initially stating that he planned on camping at some schools before making a decision, Cheek verbaled to the Wolfpack shortly after the Red-White game.
Lancaster Head Coach Bobby Carpenter says: "Ryan is a hard-nosed player who did a good job playing on both sides of the ball for us. He'll be a terrific linebacker in college."
ESPN Evaluation: Cheek is a good-looking athlete showing fine skills as both a running quarterback and hard-hitting inside linebacker. He possesses adequate height and a strong, sturdy body. Utilizes his thickness well filling his inside run gaps with good power. Difficult to turn this kid when he steps up with momentum.
Can redirect and mirror ball carriers well between the tackles. Good diagnosing skills with very few false steps. Strong tackler who drives through from his hips and shows good upper-body strength dragging down defenders when chasing. Pursues well laterally but is better attacking vertically.
Shows good explosiveness and acceleration closing on the perimeter. Great blitzer with his timing and initial burst. For a thicker linebacker, he displays good hips, turns and athleticism in coverage.
However, he does not always look real fluid mirroring ball carriers in space with his compact frame, and he lacks the height and long, rangy body sought-after in an outside 'backer at the next level. On the inside, he locates the ball quickly but struggles at times slipping under the cutoff block. Will need to work on leverage and shedding with better hand technique to beat bigger linemen consistently at the college level.
Physical upside maybe limited and his current size and speed measurables on paper don't blow you away. With that said, this kid is all over the football field and just has a nose for finding the ball and making plays. Non-flashy, blue collar, sound linebacker that gets it done and should continue to do so at the next level. Potential sleeper in this linebacker class.