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Saturday, April 26, 2008 marked the start of a profession, the start of a journey, and the start of a steady income for 99 college football players around the country. But, for Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, this date meant much more.
Born and raised in the small city of Exton, PA., Ryan was a three-star athlete at the William Penn Charter School. However, Ryan’s biggest success would come on the football field. He threw for 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior season there.
Ryan only received four scholarship offers to big Division 1 programs, including Iowa, Georgia Tech, Purdue, and Boston College. Ryan stayed dear to his northern roots as he decided to accept the offer from Boston College.
The rest, as they say, is history.
After playing sparingly in 2004, Ryan started in five games in 2005 as he split time with then starting quarterback Quinton Porter. Ryan most notably took home MVP honors in the MPC Computer Bowl as he led the Eagles to a victory over Boise State that year.
Ryan was named the team’s starter in 2006 as he led BC to a 10-3 record. With BC clinching toward the bottom half of the rankings, Ryan did not endure as much publicity as other top quarterbacks at that time. But, this changed during the 2007 season. In general, that college football season was a very untraditional one. Louisiana State University held the No. 1 ranking for the majority of the season, but what transpired behind LSU garnered the most interest from fans.
With an array of teams jumping up to the second spot, hopes were high for many college programs. One of those programs, BC, saw themselves ranked second during weeks eight and nine. That season Ryan passed for 4,507 yads and 31 touchdowns, however, after back-to-back loses against Florida State University and Maryland, BC fell and finished the season ranked 10th with an 11-3 record.
Although the season did not end how BC would have preferred, Ryan’s performance would lead him to become the first quarterback drafted in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Leading up to April’s draft, many wondered which direction new general manager, and former New England Patriots scouting director, Tom Dimitroff would go in. Many called for LSU’s Glen Dorsey, some echoed Darren McFadden’s name, but Dimitroff went against the grain and took the BC quarterback. Atlanta was in need of a franchise type player after enduring the fiascoe with former quarterback Michael Vick and one time head coach, and now coach of the University of Arkansas, Bobby Petrino. But was Ryan and the Falcons fan base ready for the challenge? It would seem so.
During his rookie season, Ryan would win the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of The Year award after completing 61.1 percent of his passes, while throwing for 3,440 yards and 16 touchdowns. As a team, the Falcons surprised most as they entered the playoffs for the first time since 2004. In the playoffs, Atlanta fell a touchdown short against the Arizona Cardinals.
Thus far in the 2009 season, Ryan has picked up where he left off as the Falcons are 2-0 after coming off wins against the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers.
Now, for the first time since his days at Chestnut Hill, Ryan returns to the New England region as he and the Falcons get ready to play the New England Patriots on Sunday.