Interview: Ryan Van Rensburg

He's a bull runner who's strong as a horse and fast. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last season despite not being a regular starter. Ryan Van Rensburg is another gem that the Vanderbilt staff has uncovered, this time from the Jacksonville, Fla. area.

VandyMania.com: I understand you lived in South Africa when you were younger. What was that like?
Ryan Van Rensburg: It was a lot different because freedom wise, over there, it's just a lot different. The school and everything over here is just a lot better. You feel a lot safer here.

VM: So what were you concerned about in Africa?
RVR: Crime is just a lot bigger there. You don't have as many freedoms as you have here. Not everyone is protected. The racial differences down there; it's a big deal.

VM: Your father is from South Africa?
RVR: Yes sir, my whole family is. We moved to the U.S. about 6 years ago.

VM: I heard you played rugby over in Africa. Is that true?
RVR: Yes sir, I did.

VM: Do you still play?
RVR: No, we stopped when we moved over here. We went to a few rugby clubs in Jacksonville but it's just a lot different. You can get hurt.

VM: On to football. What are the strengths of your game; what makes you a great player?
RVR: I think my weakness is my speed. I think that is one thing I can work on. My strength is one of my big key factors.

VM: Looking back on your junior season, describe for us your most exciting game?
RVR: I had to fill in for some hurt guys. When we played South Sumter; that was the biggest game. That was one of the biggest game we had that season. I thought is was just incredible, like the atmosphere. We were so pumped up and ready. We were just ready to play and everything. I think that was the best game of the season.

VM: What was your longest run of the year?
RVR: I want to say 35 yards, I think.

VM: What is your 40 time, bench and squat bests?
RVR: My squat is 455, my bench 405 and my forty time is 4.6, 4.7.

VM: What NFL or college player do you feel you are similar to in style of play?
RVR: Hmmm. I think it was the Florida Times-Union that compared me to Mike Alstott.

VM: What honors did you receive during your junior season?
RVR: I was just elected to the Super 11 team like last week. It was a real honor. I was really pleased about that.

VM: When did you visit Vanderbilt and how did the visit go?
RVR: I visited right before summer started. The visit was incredible. The coaches were real nice. I loved the campus. I just felt at home. I just thought about my options and all the other colleges around and I just didn't want to go anywhere else.

VM: What were the Vanderbilt coaches telling you about how you'd be utilized at Vanderbilt?
RVR: They are going to use me as a running back, sir.

VM: What did the coaches say when you told them you were coming to Vanderbilt?
RVR: Right after my visit I just walked up to Coach Bobby Johnson, after our little meeting and speaking to my family and said, "This is where I want to go." They were really excited about it because they are signing one running back and they wanted it to be me. They got who they wanted so we were all very pleased about it.

VM: What happened with your brother? I know you and him had planned on going to the same school. How does that feel to you going to Vanderbilt instead of to the school your brother is at (Furman)?
RVR: We've always had the huge plan of me and him playing together and going to school together. He visited (Vanderbilt) with me, my whole family visited with me. We got together and spoke about everything and my brother told me that, "Your selling yourself short if you miss this opportunity." He feels real good about me going.

VM: How is your high school team looking for the upcoming season?
RVR: I think we are looking good. We have a young team and a young line. We still have some places to fill on defense. We are working hard. We'll just have to see how it goes. I'm not making any predictions. We are going to take it as far as we can take it.

VM: I heard you guys had a good team last year. How did you finish?
RVR: We had a good team. I think we could have worked harder. We did have all the ability and athletes on our team. I just didn't think that we did all that we could do. We went all the way up to the second round in the playoffs.

VM: I heard some schools are still recruiting you. Which ones are still actively recruiting you?
RVR: I won't say "actively recruiting me" because I don't even open their mail anymore. Wake Forest, Kentucky, Navy, Furman and Miami. That's about it but I've made my decision and I'm sticking to it.


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