More than Ryan Expected

Notre Dame commitment John Ryan of St. Ignatius high school (Cleveland, Ohio) spent the weekend in South Bend with teammate Rob Parris for the annual football awards banquet. While he had laid some academic groundwork with previous visits, Ryan's trip was more than he had anticipated.

"I met with Dan Saracino and then someone from the athletic counseling department," Ryan explained of his Friday afternoon activities. "I took an unofficial back in April so most of the academic stuff had been covered. I sat down with most of the people and just asked any question that I had, but there weren't a lot of unknowns.

"I think it helped a lot," Ryan said of his previous trips to Notre Dame. "I'm sure everyone's meetings (this weekend) were different, but mine were pretty quick. It affirmed everything that I knew from previous trips. We went over what classes I would be taking and all of that. I was kind of a good refresher of what I am going to be getting into next year. It was kind of the next step."

Once Ryan and his fellow classmates finished the academic portion of their official visit, they headed to the annual awards banquet where former head coach Lou Holtz was the guest speaker.

"I think he would be a neat guy to play for," Ryan said of Holtz. "Some of the things he says, he seems more of a story teller and a motivational type of guy. He seems like someone who could light up a room with a pre-game speech. That was the kind of vibe I got from him.

"He has his own way about him. His charisma is unbelievable. When he was up there talking there wasn't a sole in the room that wasn't paying attention because of the respect that everyone gives him and his ability to gather everyone's attention. He just has the ability to speak to everyone at every level. Right after he got done I said he's just like my high coach, Mr. Kyle. He's (coach Kyle) been named the national coach of the year and the whole nine yards and he has that same exact way."

Notre Dame fans know how special the university is. They say the more you visit the more the university becomes a part of you. Tommy Zbikowksi and Jeff Samardzija hosted Ryan and Parris, two players that embody the spirit of Notre Dame.

"We didn't know going in that Tommy and Jeff were close," Ryan explained. "They have to be the two coolest dudes I've ever met. They have their own distinct personalities. In no way shape or form cocky. They have every reason to be cocky but they aren't at all. Instead they're nice, fun guys. They treated like one of their younger brothers or one of their good friends. It was everything that you could hope for and want in a host."

On Saturday the recruits had an opportunity to watch the Notre Dame coaches work with the Irish players.

"Practice was very cool," he commented. "We got to see all the guys out there. I watched the front seven-on-seven. It was interesting to watch. They go so hard after each other. When you're right next to them watching these huge dudes get after each other, it's great to watch. The intensity level is ridiculous. They're not going through the motions or walking through anything."

Most of the freshman from this year's class played minutes for the Irish. With the depth a concern at defensive end, Ryan has the opportunity to work into the defensive end rotation if he is able to compete.

"You never know what to expect in a situation you've never been in it before," Ryan explained of making the jump from high school to college football. "You have guys in front of you. All I can say is that I'm going to practice the same way if I'm the fourth team guy being red-shirted or anything else. I'm going to come out with my hardhat on every day. That's the only thing I've been taught whole life. You go out there and work your hardest and if I do that I'll be satisfied."

"It was absolutely incredible," Ryan said of his trip. "I expected it to be good, but it was way, way more than I ever expected."


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