High School Setting Helped Ryan

When John Ryan strapped it up and was ready to go for his first day of Notre Dame football practice, the freshman defensive end didn't know what to expect. He quickly came to realize much of the things the Irish do in practice are similar to what Ryan did during his days at prep-powerhouse Cleveland St. Ignatius.

Grooming at such a great prep program, Ryan was able to come in crack the Notre Dame two-deep almost right away.

"It's huge, I can't tell you," Ryan said. "The place I came from, I cannot speak highly enough about. What I am today is because of them, as a person and as a player. You see it, because the way practices are set up are almost identical to the way practices are set up back home. Obviously with all the players and all the talent that my high school has produced at the next level, and the staff has not changed since the 80s, so it's the same guys and the same coaches that continually teach the game the right way and that's helped obviously a lot.

"The analysis of the film, you obviously don't get a lot of that in high school, but a lot of the same drills. You have to be so cognizant of your technique in college rather than in high school because you can get away with stuff but you know obviously that is one thing, but a lot of the stuff is the same so it's just another day."

Another thing that is the same for Ryan is not being thrown into the fire right away. Though he has been listed as Victor Abiamiri's backup all season, Ryan has only played a tad, making one tackle in five games. While most of Ryan's classmates started as freshmen and sophomores in high school, his turn didn't come until he was a junior.

Ryan played behind Mike Massey, now a tight end at Michigan, and Jim Ramella a defensive end at Boston College, so he knows a starting spot is always earned while some his classmates might have a problem adjusting.

"I'm used to being a little fish in the big pond," Ryan said. "I just wanted to come in and get my feet wet and obviously work as hard as I can and let everything take care of itself."

He is certainly getting his feet wet. Ryan came in and beat out returning veteran Justin Brown and career-backup Dwight Stephenson Jr. for a spot on the two-deep. With Ronald Talley leaving school, Ryan could be in the mix for more reps at right end behind Chris Frome.

Ryan is just taking it all in stride.

"I just come everyday and give 110 percent on the field and off the field, in the weight room and on the practice field. I let everything else take care of itself because there is nothing else I can do but give my best effort."

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Ryan is going to have turn his effort towards the weight room hard core in the offseason. He hasn't sat down with strength and conditioning coordinator Ruben Mendoza yet about a goal weight or offseason plan, but Abiamiri and Frome weight 270 and 262 respectively.

Though Ryan didn't have to make as many adjustments as some of his classmates since reporting to Notre Dame, he still had to find his comfort zone.

"The biggest thing off the field is finding time to sleep, finding time for yourself, because to keep up with your academics and football it's a pretty demanding thing at this university," Ryan explained. "That is probably the biggest transition. You don't have a lot of down time."

"You just have to get a feel for the place first. Once you get a feel for the place, each day gets easier and easier."


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