Cedar Crest grad Chad Ryland had no expectations coming into his freshman season at Eastern Michigan University—but if he had, there’s no doubt they would have been exceeded by what he’s achieved these last seven months.
More about Chad Ryland
Ranked as a five-star kicker and 24th in the nation for the class of 2018 by Kohl’s Kicking, Ryland was a two-time all-county and all-league kicker for Cedar Crest. He also played four years of varsity soccer and three years of varsity baseball. Ryland is majoring in supply chain management and wears #38 for the Eagles.
Ryland kicked off his career with an impressive nine points in the team’s season-opener against Monmouth, with Ryland a walk-on in the position. “The highlight of my first season was getting to play right away,” he said in response to questions provided by LebTown. “Then the Purdue game, getting the game-winning field goal.”
The Eagles ended their season with a bowl appearance at the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, AL, and for Ryland this was just the best way to end the season. “Getting to go to a bowl game, getting to experience all that, was beyond expectations,” he said. “I can’t put a finger on one specific highlight, but the whole season as a whole was just fantastic.
Ryland came to Ypsilanti with a scheme no more complex than working hard to win the job. And the plan from here? You guessed it—more grinding. Ryland doesn’t believe the job is his to lose; even as incumbent, he see’s the job as his to win.
Ryland has set 80% as his goal through spring ball and fall camp. For comparison, NFL teams have field goal conversion percentages ranging from the low seventies to mid nineties. “That number sticks around with kickers and specialists in general,” explained Ryland. “That’s more like an A for kickers.”
As specialists, more self-work is required than most other roles on the team. Opportunities to use the open field are limited, so Ryland finds himself taking advantages of all the chances he get (including when the other guys are in meetings). Film overview is also different, with Ryland being focused on much narrower slices of the game than most players. “It comes down to a lot of little things that get overlooked by a lot of people,” he said.
A season into life as a D1 athlete, Ryland sees himself as the same guy he was as a Cedar Crest student, just with a some luck and a lot of experience having gotten through to the collegiate level. “It’s pretty much the same coming home,” he noted. “I try to be the same guy I am inside and now I’m just playing for a different team at the collegiate level.”
Ryland actually went back to his old stomping grounds during a spring break visit to Lebanon and visited with students at Cedar Crest Middle School, where his mom, Debra Ryland, works as an art teacher.
Chad says that the middle school students were especially interested in the Fossil watch he got as part of the bowl game swag package. “I remember how excited I’d be seeing older guys, especially playing at the college level, come in and talk about even the littlest things, doesn’t even have to be football related,” he said. “It was cool to see their faces light up and reminisce about older times.”
Ryland also maintains correspondence with his former coach on the Cedar Crest team as well as the current kickers. “I was lucky enough to go through it, get to this level, so I try to share whatever I can experience wise because I think it will hopefully benefit those guys,” he said.
The Eagles will open their 2019 season on August 31 at Coastal Carolina.