Ryan Happy to be On The Field Again

<P>Sophomore offensive lineman Jamie Ryan had moments when he thought his career was over. The 6-5, 290-pound Tamaqua, PA native suffered a blood clot in his neck his senior season in high school. The injury almost ended his career but Ryan fought through it and now his hard work has put him in position to see considerable playing time in 2003. </P>

Jamie Ryan said he had a hard time dealing with his injury but is very excited to get back on the field. "It feels great," said Ryan of playing again. "That was a rough time in my life. I think I've put it behind me and it's just great to be out here competing and playing football."

Ryan says there were times when he felt his career was over. "It was up in the air and I really didn't know from the doctor or anything like that. I was blessed to have a great family and great friends and kept positive. I just had to keep positive basically."

The injury did heal however and Ryan was able to be cleared by the Notre Dame medical staff. Ryan still had to sit out much of last year but did start practicing later in the year. He said that experience and his work in the off-season prepared him for playing time this year. "I started practicing last year, the Florida State week. With all that time in the off-season, conditioning and lifting, I think I was pretty well ready coming into the season."

Ryan says while he played on Saturday, he still has a lot of work to do. "Yes, there are a lot of things I need to work on – run-blocking, I'm trying to work on that at practice. You can always get better. You can always get stronger. You can't get too strong."

The Irish have had to shuffle in offensive linemen all year. With the injuries to right guard Sean Milligan and center Bob Morton, Ryan's football career took off sooner than many thought. The offensive line hasn't had a lot of time to become a cohesive unit with so many different players getting a look.

Ryan says that practice will have to be the time where they find that cohesion. "I think, you know, that is what practice is for basically. Just going against the defensive looks and I think if all of us concentrate out there at practice, then come game time it will come naturally."

Ryan didn't start the game—junior Darin Mitchell started—but Ryan did come in the first half and the fourth quarter. The Irish struggled most of the first half and Ryan said that the coaches settled them down and told them they could win the game. "I didn't keep track but I played 3 or 4 (series) in the first half and in the 4th quarter. They just said that we just had to stay physical and keep on our game plan and all the tools are there. We just need to start clicking and we basically have to start now."

The Tamaqua, PA native certainly looked good out there in his first real playing experience but he said he didn't get any high praise from the coaching staff. "It's hard to get a performance evaluation in my opinion when we lost. It must be my competitive nature, I'm just not happy with my play."

The Irish coaches are not saying who will start this week. Ryan also says he has no idea who will start but did say he had some reps with the first team yesterday. "No, it's a game-time thing. I just have to work hard as I can at practice."

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