Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Two of Ryan Swtizer’s four punt returns for touchdowns came in a road win over Pitt.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former George Washington High football standout Ryan Switzer has had a rousing rookie impact at North Carolina. He became the first true freshman since 1977 and just the third Tar Heel freshman overall since 1996 to earn first-team All-ACC honors.

“It’s been a blessing so far,” Switzer said on the MetroNews “High School Sportsline” show this week. “It’s something that I expected out of myself coming into the season and it just makes expectations higher for the years to come.”

Switzer had 29 catches in the regular season for 319 yards and three touchdowns. But most of his damage came on special teams where he totaled 419 yards, including four touchdowns. Two of those scores came in a 34-27 road win at Pitt, on returns of 65 and 61 yards.

“It was a familiar feeling,” he said. “I was able to get into the end zone a lot in high school. When I crossed the end zone for those punt returns, especially at home, it just felt loud. But those two at Pitt, you could hear a pin drop.”

Along with those All-ACC honors, Switzer also earned several All-American accolades as a punt return specialist, including ESPN, USA Today and Athlon.

“When the bowl game finishes up and I have a couple of weeks to have some downtime before the offseason starts, I think that’s when I’ll be able to really reflect on this past season and what I was able to do,” he said.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Switzer set a North Carolina record this season by returning four punts for touchdowns (that mark also ties the ACC single-season record as well).

Switzer is back in the Charleston area this weekend for the first time since July. After a holiday break, he’ll meet up with his team next week for UNC’s Belk Bowl matchup against Cincinnati on Dec. 28.

“It’ll probably be the most physical secondary that we’ve played,” Switzer said. “They have some great defensive backs and are real physical at the line of scrimmage. We’ll have a tough time, but we also see some things that we like. They’re a great team – you don’t win nine games for no reason, so we have our work cut out for us.”

But, more importantly, how about the breakdown of Cincinnati’s punt-coverage unit?

“Like us, they take a lot of pride in their special teams,” Switzer said. “Hopefully I get some (opportunities). They have a tendency to leave their quarterback out on the field and punt, which is bad news for me. But we’ll see how the game breaks out.”

Switzer needs just 3 yards to surpass UNC’s all-time single-season record of 421 punt return yards. His current 20-yard average would also break a school record of 17.5 that was set all the way back in 1948.

“I want to thank everyone back home for keeping up with me,” he said. “Hopefully I can continue to provide some excitement coming up over these next couple of years.”

You can watch the complete interview with Switzer above.

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  • Charleston,WV

    My congratulations to Mr. Switzer! Although I would have liked you to attend WVU, my Alma Mater, I am especially glad that you are working hard and making a name for yourself outside of our great state! Keep up the good work and represent our state well! You make us proud!
    OBTW: Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • Richard

    It's my understanding WVU didn't pursue him for as long or as closely as UNC.


    He made the correct choice by leaving the state. Get over it .

  • cutty77

    Good For Him. But there is a difference in The ACC and The Big 12. But to each his own.

  • shepherd

    Great job...keep working hard and good things will continue to happen. Everyone should be happy and proud of this kid, he is playing big time ACC football and is doing great...Its not every day a boy from WV succeeds at this high of a level, I dont even know the kid and Im proud of him.

    • Cooper

      Very much agreed..... If he'd stayed in WV, then all of these nut fans would be criticizing him!

  • Master of One

    This is a monumental recruiting error that came back to bite Dana Holgorsen in he Butt.

  • 1prouddog

    "Little Wes Welker".....see ya on Sunday!!!!

  • john c

    i know his family personally he was NEVER offered by wvu until it was too late he always wanted to be a mountaineer be he was ignored until it was too late this was terrible recruiting on the part of wvu and their loss great job ryan west virginia is proud of you

  • Roger

    Considering that NO ONE but Ryan's parents, Ryan, coach Steve Edwards and one local news reporter were involved or knew about Ryan's recruiting I would say that all "assumptions" are just that DH and GoEers. I believe Ryan handled himself well and has represented the home state, his family and school very well. As stated in a previous post garnering All American status as a true freshman is quite an honor and one Ryan deserves. I can only imagine his excitement. I know he's appreciated the support from true West Virginia fans that like to see people succeed when they've worked hard to do it.

  • Big Larry

    Switzer's skills seemed a perfect fit for Dana Holgorsen's offense at West Virginia University, especially with the graduation of all-purpose back Tavon Austin, but the GW star didn't connect with the coaches.

    "West Virginia offered me, but out of my 19 [offers] they were my 17th offer,'' said Switzer. "They didn't push for me hard. THEY REALLY DIDN'T RECRUIT ME and I never got a good feel for them. I'm happy where I'm going.''

    Brian Switzer 2/6/13

    • Big Larry


      RYAN Switzer...

      my bad.

      • Charleston,WV

        Big Larry: Isn't that the second time???/
        Hahaha. LOL.

        Merry Christmas!

  • GoEers

    I know that all you WVU haters/Marshall trolls are not going to like this, but last week the owner of the WV rivals site posted a link to an article from February 2012 regarding WVU's scholarship offer to Switzer. This offer was made several days before the UNC offer and an entire year before signing day.

    He chose to go to UNC which is his right. I wish him the best of luck.

    • WVU86

      Big difference between an receiving an "offer" and "being recruited." Several major schools "recruited" Switzer hard, including Fla. State and Penn State. He had "offers" from Ohio State, Stanford (late) and WVU among many others. Fact remains, WVU did not try very hard to get Switzer no matter what kind of spin you put on it GoEers. I don't have an issue with WVU not trying, I have an issue with people saying/implying Switzer dissed WVU.

  • wvfreys

    Who cares how he does. He ignored repeated offers for West Virginian and Marshall - so who cares if he does good or not?
    There are much more important topics to discuss than a this guy.

    • Wow

      Wvfreys, You my man, are a bitter loser. If you dont have anything to say about a 18 to 19 year old kid, just keep your mouth shut. Now take your meds and go back to sleep.

      • Wow

        Anything good.

    • Dogsfan

      Can u blame him for not wanting to play for the train wreck known as wvu football young man made the right call going to UNC

      • MHSdog93

        Ha. That's funny. Have you paid attention to UNC that last 5 years? NCAA sanctions and classroom problems. But they seem to have the program on the right track now.

    • WVU86

      "If there are more important topics to discuss than this guy" then please explain why you are discussing in the first place, and with falsehoods I might add.

  • WV Alum

    Our whole state can be very proud of Ryan's athletic ability and accomplishments as I'm sure his home folks are.

    I wonder how another state product named Stewart fared his freshman year in football at James Madison?

    • Larry

      NFL Films did a nice piece on Blaine and his relationship with Mike Tomlin, he seems like a great kid, it re-airs tomorrow at 1pm on NFL Network.

    • Troll

      Why would the whole state be proud of his atheletic ability? He should be proud, his parents should be proud but it really doesn't concern all of WV that's absurd. So what he's a good athelet and he left WV good luck to him and move on.

    • Roger

      I have heard from others that Blaine Stewart and Dustin Crouser (UNCC) have both made the adjustment to college well after redshirting this yr. Great to see these young men as well as the other kids playing at the D1 level continuing their careers AND MORE IMPORTANTLY earning an education. Congrats to them all.

      • Troll

        What does earning an education have to do with playing college sports?

  • Dean Steinman

    After reading the other comments I would say this. In 44 years of experiencing WV high school football in one form or another there is a strong history of our "flagship" university ignoring in-state talent. In 1969 I played with two athletes who were told that they could not play at WVU but did play at Ohio State. When they do condescend to offer the scholarships the players generally are doomed to special teams. Better to go elsewhere.

    • dh

      he was not ignored by WVU mr steinman... have your facts straight before making assumptions.

  • Dean Steinman

    And he's not on the squad at WVU because?

    • dh

      because he "CHOSE" to go to UNC

    • GoEers

      WVU offered him a scholarship in February of his junior year. The offer came a few days before the NC offer.

      • hhs dad

        Only a wvu fan would be angry at this young man. He chose UNC which is a better school all around compared to WVU.The people in this state should be proud of him. He is a very talented kid on and off the field. Congrats and ill be watching the bowl game rooting for you.

        • Troll

          Once again why should the people of WV be proud of him? I don't know him just know he's a pretty good football players that's all so why should I be proud of him? Now his parents and family on the other hand should be extremely proud of him.