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Hard Work Pays off for G.W. Star Switzer


Our state’s top high school football player, Ryan Switzer of George Washington,  surprised a lot of people yesterday with the announcement that he will play his college football for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. 

As a junior last fall, Switzer led his team to a berth in the AAA state title game and won the Kennedy Award, given to the state’s top player.  He rushed for 2,796 yards and 40 touchdowns for the Patriots and scored 270 points. 

Reportedly, Switzer’s final college choices came down to West Virginia, Penn State and North Carolina and he chose to head to Chapel Hill.

There will be many Mountaineer fans who will be frustrated that Switzer is not going to Morgantown. They may feel as if he "spurned" the Mountaineers.  They shouldn’t feel that way.

There is no law that says our in-state athletes have to go to in-state schools. Our history books are full of great athletes who have gone to college outside of our state’s borders. Many of them still love our state and have come back to our state and made tremendous contributions here. Switzer’s high school coach, Steve Edwards, is one of them. He played his college football at the University of Cincinnati. 

Hopefully, the fans in this state will also wish Switzer no ill will for not choosing WVU.  By all accounts, he is an incredible kid and a great young man from a wonderful family.  We are a small state, and in a state like this, we feel like these kids are all of our kids.  Hopefully he will know that the people here wish him well and trust that he will represent our state with class in Chapel Hill.  . 

Actually the family is to be congratulated. For this family, his college decision is the culmination of years of hard work and planning. His development as an athlete did not happen overnight. It has taken years of hard work. Switzer has been a standout athlete in many sports since a young age. He has done all of the smart and intelligent things in recruiting. He has toured the nation for the last several years seeing seeing schools, college towns and participating in many summer combines.

He has tested incredibly well at various combines in areas such as speed, agility and lateral movement. With each trip and each positive review, he has made a name for himself as a good kid and an outstanding athlete. Former Penn State assistant coach, Jay Paterno, told me last fall that he "loved everything about the kid, attitude, ability and coachability." 

The payoff is a free education at a great university and for that, he and his family are to be congratulated. Job well done. 

From a pure football standpoint, the Tar Heels have a new head coach, Larry Fedora from Southern Miss. Fedora’s team upset Houston last December to win the Conference USA title. That win may have landed him the UNC job. Ironically, his team appeared in our state last fall and lost to Doc Holliday and Marshall in Huntington 26-20 in the second week of the season last September. 

Fedora is also inheriting a probation and NCAA sanctions at North Carolina. Normally, during a period of scholarhip losses, it is difficult for teams to  win as many games as they are used to winning. I imagine that  will also be the case at UNC during Switzer’s time there. Scholarship losses are supposed to be a punishment and to hurt. That is why they call them penalites. The impact usually lasts for a 3-5 year period. Marshall experienced that earlier this decade in our state. I saw it  first hand at Alabama in the early 2000’s.

Through it all, with scholarship numbers down, the Tar Heels can use as many versatile players as possible. Ryan Switzer has proven throughout his career to certainly be versatile on both sides of the ball and on special teams. 

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