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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Comments

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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.

    • dh

      because he "CHOSE" to go to UNC

  • Honey Badger

    Another Holgorsen whiff. Congratulations Ryan. You are doing well for a coach who knows how to coach football.
    Idiot Holgorsen at his finest.

    • GoEers

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

      Know your facts...

  • Frank / Moundsville

    Good story...........

  • vanch

    It wasn't that WVU didn't show love for Brian, it was Brian that didn't show love for West Virginia.

  • steve

    He wouldnt had a chance to return punts when you have a defense that cant stop anyone. The flip side of that, the QB's cant get him the ball. So his impact would have been minimal. He made the smart choice. This is Dana's make or break year. Be patient WVU fans, Jim Tressel is waiting.

    • Harpers Ferry

      Keep dreaming. WVU won't have the money to pay him.

      • J. Perry

        maybe that isn't his motivation......

  • Lee

    Even though we have few players from are state that are legit Div 1 talent.. it is crazy to think that we will get all these kids to WVU simply because its our state institution...

    You can go back to Curt Warner and see that at times the fit, the dream, the academics just doesnt work out

    I dont know this young man so I cannot speculate where he wanted to go to school.. but if he wanted to attend WVU he very well could have been a Mountaineer..

    nor do I know what WVUs position was at the time... but to say that talent that would help a program win wouldnt get a fair shake is asenine.. with all the pressure on high profile coaches to win these days you can be confident that the best talent will see the field

    Bottom line is that kids at times will leave the state to attend schools elsewhere... this is not special to WVU its simply highlighted more because we have such few kids that can play at that level... If a Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Texas kid chooses to attend a school in a different state no one notices because there are 10 more kids that are just as good that are capable of playing Div 1 to choose from.

  • Perspective

    This is a great story and I'm glad wvmetronews.com put this up. Ryan is a great young man and athlete. To put this into perspective however, we have this one athlete in this state that went and played college football and excelled. SC, GA, FL, TX, MP, and LA have so many that you could do a daily athlete on a statewide show.
    So when you start thinking about recruiting, where would you go. I agree they should of gotten Ryan to stay home, but not every kid wants to play for WVU or Marshall. Chapel Hill is a little nicer place than Morgantown, and I like gray skies and co ed puke on High St. just as much as the rest of you.

    • Larry

      Where is MP?

    • Neal

      Thanks for perpetuating bad stereotypes of WV. Stereotypes are one reason all those states you mentioned have more young people, and therefore more D1 football prospects than WV does. I've been to Chapel Hill and it is a nice place. But Morgantown is also a great place to live. BTW, it's "should've", not "should of".

      • Cooper

        Sorry Neal but its not a stereo type for WV. It's a fact of epic per portion. I'd be curious to know the number of kids who chose to attend WV because of the tradition that we are known for. "The Party School"! How many years running now? The other magnet is that our out of state tuition is cheaper than many others in state tuitions. Next issue. Would you rather visit the warm climates of Florida and South Carolina or the corn (wheat) fields of Kansas and Iowa St.? Congrats to Ryan and his positive representation of WV as a whole. We should celebrate him instead of put him down. It would have been nice to have joined the ACC, but we were denied. Why? Our academic standards. Negative reputation. What else? Hell, this really hurts, but our backyard brawl brothers didn't encounter any issue being accepted by the ACC. Thanks so much Ryan for torching Pitt! And please....you check grammar on a post? This ain't the New York Times.

  • Fact

    Before all of the "he did not want to attend WVU" talk begins, let me set the record straight:

    Ryan wanted very badly to attend WVU. Dana made NO EFFORT to recruit Ryan until very late, and he only did that due to in state pressure. Even when Dana did recruit Ryan, it was a half-azzed effort.

    Neither Ryan nor his parents felt like Dana wanted Ryan, which is true. They felt like Ryan would not get a fair shake at WVU.

    Now, say all you want about the cream going to the top, and if he really wanted to be a Mountaineer he would have gone anyway, blah blah blah. But he never felt wanted at WVU while other schools were bending over backwards to get him.

    You have one school basically telling you you aren't wanted, we are just recruiting you to humor you. Others are telling you we love you to death, we have plans for you, please come play for us.

    Where are you going?

    • WVU86

      Fact - fortunately people have come to learn that Ryan was dissed by Dana and WVU and the backlash toward Ryan about not attending WVU is all but gone. If anything, this further confirms that Holgs 1. is in over his head as a head coach of a major college football program and 2. continues to show disdain for this state.

    • GoEers

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

    • GoEers

      WVU recruited him early in the process. Dana wasn't going to get on his knees and beg for him to come (nor should he).

      • WVU86

        GoEers, nice of you to try to protect the Blue and Gold with your false statements but no one is buying it. Those of us who know Ryan and his family remember well how WVU showed token interest - at best - in Ryan and only after WVU was taking heat for not recruiting him when he had major conference schools offering right and left. So Dana blew it. Big deal. Get over it. As for your "hands and knees" ill-placed comment, all major college coaches do beg. Nick Saban once sent one recruit more than 500 letters. Maybe that is one reason why Saban is at Alabama and Holgs will be unemployed at the end of 2015, if not sooner.

      • WVtransplant

        I know Ryan personally. He went to numerous camps at WVU. He originally committed to PSU and then de-committed after the scandal. WVU (Dana) never made a real attempt to recruit him. He grew up a WVU fan and he wanted to play there, but hard to turn down another school that showed "real" interest. He ended up leading Div 1 punt returners and made all american. Really looks like Dana made the mistake, not Ryan.

    • Ace

      I don't think his 29 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns and 419 yards and four touchdowns on special teams are a big enough deal to even worry about. I do not know the stats of the WVU returners this year, but I doubt that he did that much better. It's not like he is Deion Sanders returning punts. He's not even an every down player on offense. Not a big loss in my eyes. Good luck at NC, probably where he belongs.

      • Roger

        Ace - GOOD TRY - better check your stats - Ryan's 4 punt returns are good for #2 all time in NCAA history and his 800+ yards of offense and 7 Tds is very good for a true frosh. Not too mention he was named first team All American by 3 services. For the record, you're probably right - he couldn't have helped WVU's return unit. They avg 3.2 yards a return good for 110th in the country, Switzer avg 20 yards per return and Carolina 17 as a team for #1. He has already tied or broken UNC and ACC records and can tie the NCAA record in his first year. Compare the freshman years of tavon Austin and Switzer - you'll be surprised. It's good to be a casual fan but do better research next time. Ryan plays in offense with the #1 TE in the country and is accomplishing things few true freshmen do.

  • Larry

    I'm guessing his height was probably the biggest factor in why they didn't go after him harder. At 5'10" 175, he's a bit undersized.

    • Roger

      Tavon Austin IS 5'8", 174lbs - and there are several other players in both the nfl and major college level that are the same size as Ryan. As an aside to folks that stated Ryan was not going to be able to perform/excel/compete at the next level - his season should lay that to rest. Give the young man credit for his talent, work ethic and decion. He's not only the first UNC player in program history but I'd bet the first West Virgian to garner first all American status as a true freshman.
      Congrats Ryan on representing yourself, home state and school as a winner!

  • longbeards

    How in the world did WVU not get this boy to attend their program??

    • Shadow

      How about Better School!

      • tw eagle

        better school ? do you mean the school that ran a bogus A-A department to aid the athletes to keep academically qualified ? wherever UNC is located , it is probably warmer , and MAYBE have cleaner streets , but its the laughing stock of "higher education" after the scandal broke about the non-existent classes that were giving athletes top grades . . .
        I do agree that the current HC at WVU is not giving the West Virginia kids more than a cursory look . . . I don't care if the in state kids are smaller or slower , at least they will work harder and have their hearts in the games - not like a lot of the out-of-state "talent" that seem to be here for the 4 or 5 year paid vacation. . .

        • Big Hoss

          North Carolina is a nasty state. I have drove through there many times. The roads are full litter. It is not illegal in NC to litter. They use their roads as a dumb.

          • Larry

            I have to agree that there is a lot of litter along the interstates in NC, although I'm pretty sure littering is illegal there.

    • WVU86

      Unbelievable that he had scholarship offers from Florida State, Penn State, NC and other major Division I teams before WVU even made contact with him.

    • Aaron

      I don't know this young man but it's my understanding from various sources that the reason he chose UNC was for their pre-med program and the possibility of attending UNC's Medical School.

  • Dale

    Yes, he should be a Mountaineer!!
    Congratulations Ryan! Good luck in your bowl game and your future! Thank you for representing WV so well!

  • Rob T.

    Good kid, hate that he got away! We need to start taking the old Nebraska Tom Osborne approach. "We don't have many D-1 talent come out of here but the ones we do don't get away" I heard him say this way back when I was being recruited