CHARLESTON, W.Va. — By now, most football fans in West Virginia have seen the video of Charleston native Ryan Switzer receiving the fourth-round draft call from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
What’s less known is just how many were there to see it live and in person.
“Our house went from being a morgue setting to just total elation,” said his dad Michael Switzer in a Tuesday interview with “580-Live” on WCHS radio. “It was really cool because all the people that were there, with the exception of one, were instrumental in helping him get to that point in his life.”
Not only was the player surrounded by his doting family, but also his former high school football coach, Steve Edwards Jr., who has known Ryan all his life. Edwards’ daughter and Ryan were classmates at George Washington High.
“Ryan was a big soccer player. He didn’t play football for a very long time,” Edwards told MetroNews “Hotline” after Switzer was selected by Dallas. “The first year he was playing football, I went down to Laidley Field and watched him play. My goodness, he had some vision and I thought, ‘Man this kids is really, really good, especially for his age.”
However, even Edwards knew, it was hard to judge elementary school talent and ability. He said that’s because a big part of developing the talent comes with maturity. In the case of Switzer, maturity arrived very early.
“When I saw his passion, he was committed about getting better and doing the right things. He did things at an early age that were way more mature. He was way more mature and in a different league, especially in how he approached things,” said Edwards. “I think Michael and his mother had a lot to do with that.”
“I keep saying the word surreal,” said the elder Switzer. “It’s something he’s worked for and his mom and I have worked for for 13 years, with that belief he could do this when he set out to reach his goal.”
While football became Ryan’s passion, he also was part of a state championship basketball team and ran track for the Patriots.
“He was a leader, but he led by example,” said Edwards. “The kids saw him doing it and the success he was having and they thought, ‘Wow the best guy out here is doing these things, we’re going to get with it too.'”
He skipped the final semester of his high school year to enroll early at North Carolina and be part of spring practice. He missed the final days with his high school classmates, making a sacrifice to pursue a dream. Last Saturday, the dream came true with so many around to celebrate the role they played.
“The South Hills community has been such a great outpouring of support. Ryan grew up here playing baseball at Oakmont Field, at John Adams and of course G-W and Coach Edwards,” said Michael. “It’s so cool for us to get to share up here with everyone in this community. “