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.
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.