Next Step

For Ryan Stanchek, life has been just as busy since he departed the Mountaineer campus as it was during his college career.

The life of a college athlete is a busy one. Between the demands of school and sports, both of which can amount to full-time jobs, there's often not much free time left for athletes, especially in the high Division I ranks. However, since leaving WVU following the Mountaineers' comeback victory over North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, graduated offensive lineman Ryan Stanchek is finding that his schedule is still full.

"It's like I never got a break," Stanchek said with a laugh from Nashvill, Tenn., where he is working out at the D1 Sports Training facility. "It's pretty intense here. We get up at 8:00 AM to eat, and then it's a pretty full schedule all day. We don't constantly work out, but with meals and everything else, it's busy."

After he capped his career with a fourth consecutive bowl win, Stanchek signed with agent Rick Smith, who placed him at the D1 facility to prepare for the NFL draft. There, with two other offensive linemen and a total complement of approximately 15 players, Stanchek is going through a workout regiment designed to prepare him for the tests that are typically run at NFL Pro Days across the country.

"With the smaller group, the training is a little more personalized than what we did at West Virginia," Stanchek said. "But there are some similarities. I have a personal trainer, Curt Hester, who works with me. I'll be here a while longer, then I will come back to West Virginia to get ready for the Pro Day there in mid-March."

Stanchek will be a part of that Pro Day rather than the NFL Combine in Indianapolis later this month, because he did not get an invitation to that event. While he didn't get a reason for being left out, he has a good idea of the cause.

"They base a lot of that on your stats and your size, and if you don't fit what they are looking for you don't get an invite," he reasoned. "But I think I'm a football player, and I am going to work hard and do everything I can to give a pro career my best shot. You have to play the hand you are dealt."

Stanchek's evaluation is correct. NFL scouts routinely overlook play on the field in favor of "measurables" and fail to take into account those qualities that can't be quantified with tape measures and stopwatches. He realizes that is part of the game, however, and thus is working hard so that he can put up the best numbers possible on Pro Day. All he wants is one chance to show what he can do.

In the meantime, he has had a chance to reflect on his career at West Virginia.

"The things I'll remember most are the successes we had, and how we got along so well. I'll miss that. Being part of the most successful class in West Virginia history and winning four bowls -- I just feel lucky to be a part of that. It was a very exciting time in my life."

Stanchek, of course, was a big part of that, and luck had nothing to do with it. As an all-league performer, he helped anchor the line that produced some of West Virginia's best offensive seasons ever. OFf the field, he competed his graduate degree and stands just three classes short of his master's, which he plans to finish at some point in the future. First, though, his shot at an NFL career is on the front burner.

"I just want to take this chance and see if I can do it as a career," said Stanchek, whose polite off the field demeanor belies his ferocious play inside the lines. "I am going to work as hard as I can and see how it turns out."

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