"I think a lot of people misunderstand Ryan; he's not an arrogant person at all," Bulldogs coach Mike Newsome said. "He's just not real talkative. He's a unique guy, and he takes things with a grain of salt."
Prior to last season, Houston was in the weight room and watched as a Butler senior was setting a school hang clean record. Houston said, "I can do that."
He then engaged in a lifting competition with the older player, ultimately topping him with a 335-pound hang clean.
Newsome said it's when someone tells Houston he can't do something that he invariably will rise to the challenge.
"You put competition in front of him and he works that much harder," Newsome said.
In middle school Houston always played quarterback, which certainly contributed to his superior football intellect. But in high school he was moved to running back. Houston said the position change was the toughest thing he's ever had to adjust to from a football standpoint.
"When I made that change to running back, I was like, ‘There's no way I'm getting a college scholarship,'" Houston said. "But I was just able to use my football smarts to try and get through the game."
Now, as he prepares for his senior campaign, Houston is the mainstay of the Butler offense. When the Bulldogs have trouble passing the ball, he can take a game over by moving the chains and keeping the clock running.
Still, he never takes himself too seriously.
"I'm a real intense-type coach," Newsome said. "When I get upset with him about something, he'll just say, ‘Coach, coach. Come on coach.' And he'll just make me smile. He's a great kid to be around."
After receiving scholarship offers from nearly every SEC and ACC school, as well as from several Big East schools, Houston has reason to think highly of himself. But he says he and his family have always liked UNC.
Houston attended many Carolina football and basketball games while he was growing up and, through a number of visits within the last year, became quite familiar with the University.
"When I went to Carolina, I was really impressed with their academics center and how they really emphasized academics up there," he said.
And now that he's a part of what projects as a star-studded UNC recruiting class, Houston's eager to play his role.
"I really think I'm going to be an asset to the Tar Heels' 2007 class," he said. "I don't think I'm going to be all-world or anything, but I'm hoping I can be a great part of the team."
Butler coach Mike Newsome with Houston