Thinking Back to Matt Ryan at BC
By BJ Bennett
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In early November of 2007, Matt Ryan had the Boston College Eagles ranked second in the national polls.
Even with the letdown loss in Super Bowl LI, quarterback Matt Ryan has helped solidify the Atlanta Falcons as a winning franchise. He, after 4,994 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and an astounding 9.3 yards per attempt, recently became the organization's first NFL MVP and, on Sunday, had his team within mere moments of a world championship. Ryan is now widely-regarded as a premier professional signal caller. He is a big reason why Atlanta will enter next season as one of the league favorites.
As a star at Boston College, Ryan's impact was quite similar. He compiled a remarkable 25-6 record as a starter from his sophomore year on, leading the Eagles to three-straight wins over Clemson and victories over the likes of BYU, Florida State, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech during his career. Ryan advanced to the ACC Championship Game as a senior and won three bowl games over Boise State, Navy and Michigan State. Boston College's first-ever league triumph, coming over the Tigers in Death Valley, was with Ryan at the helm.
In early November of 2007, Ryan had the Eagles ranked second in the national polls, behind only eventual BCS National Championship Game participant Ohio State. The Eagles were riding the momentum of consecutive wins at the Fighting Irish and at the Hokies, with Ryan's heroics proving to be the difference in an iconic 14-10 rally over top ten Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. He threw two touchdown passes in the game's final 2:11, scrambling and connecting with Andre Callender on a late game-winner. In the rain, "Matty Ice" found a way.
"That's what Heisman's do," Hokies defensive end Chris Ellis stated after the game. "They don't ever give up. We beat the O-line, put licks on him and he came through at the end. He had a 2-minute drill -- two of them. He did what he had to do."
Though Ryan would not win college football's most-coveted individual award, he did go on to be named the ACC Player of the Year, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner and the Manning Award winner, setting new school records with 4,507 passing yards and 31 passing touchdowns. Perhaps most notably, he paced Boston College to eleven wins in 2007, tying the all-time program mark set by Frank Leahy's undefeated Eagles' squad in 1940.
In addition to his on-field successes, Ryan's jersey was retired this past fall, the Pennsylvania-native has a special place in Boston College history. He has maintained an active role with his alma mater, appearing, among other involvements, in a commercial for the institution. Ryan is married to a former captain of the women's basketball team. His uncle, John Loughery, played quarterback for the Eagles in the early 1980s.
Watching Ryan lead his team to the top is far from a new phenomenon. Nearly a decade ago, he had Boston College on the verge of being the top-ranked team in the country. That leadership and ability resulted in Ryan, an AFCA All-American as an Eagle, being taken as the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. One of the best to ever come through Chestnut Hill, Ryan's college legacy is one worth remembering.