Matt Ryan

Submitted by on Sep 5, 2015

Matthew Thomas Ryan was born on May 17, 1985 in Exton, Pennsylvania. ( Click here for today’s sports birthdays .) He was the third of four children born to Bernice and Michael Ryan. There were good athletes on both sides of Matt’s family. His mother’s brother, John Loughery, was the starting quarterback for Boston College as a sophomore in 1980.

Matt was a good athlete and a big sports fan. He rooted for Philadelphia teams. Football was one of his first loves. On the Eagles, he was drawn to quarterbacks Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb.

Matt was not a quarterback in his Pop Warner days. Although he had a strong, accurate arm, he was mostly used as a tight end and safety. He didn’t have particularly good foot speed, but he could read where a play was going in an instant. This skill ultimately made Matt a natural as a quarterback. He began to blossom as a passer before he reached his freshman year of high school.

Matt attended the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. He started there as a little boy and continued until his high school graduation. Rated among the top academic schools in the country, Penn Charter had also produced its share of top athletes over the years. That list included soccer stars Bobby Convey and Chris Albright, NFL quarterback Browning Nagle, NBA guard Sean Singletary and baseball players Ruben Amaro Jr. and Mark Gubicza. John Kelly—an Olympic skater and brother of Grace Kelly—also graduated from the school.

Matt played football, baseball and basketball for the Quakers. During the 2002–03 school year, he was named captain of all three teams. He was a shooting forward on the basketball team. He pitched and played shortstop for the baseball team.

Penn Charter’s rivalry with Germantown is one of the oldest in American football. It dates back to the 1880s, and the two schools have played more times than Army–Navy and Harvard–Yale. Matt got to experience this rivalry up close and personal four years in a row. Coach Brian McCloskey named him the varsity’s starting quarterback as a freshman in 1999, and Matt never let go of the job. Midway through Matt’s first year, McCloskey began letting him call his own audibles.

Matt came into his own as a junior. That year, he was named was Second Team All-City. As a senior, he was First Team. Matt was an All-League choice three strating seasons beginning in 2000. In his final campaign, Matt threw for more than 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns. He completed more than 50 percent or more of his passes every year.

Matt was recruited by schools throughout the Northeast. Having an uncle who quarterbacked Boston College predisposed him to the Eagles. When coach Tom O’Brien offered him a scholarship, his decision was an easy one. Things began to break his way almost immediately. In the fall of 2003, he met Sarah Marshall, a player on BCs women’s basketball team. They would date for seven years before announcing their engagement during the 2010 football season.

Matt red-shirted the 2003 season and was slated to be the third-string quarterback in 2004, BC’s final year of competition in the Big East Conference. But his fine play drew the attention of the coaching staff. When starter Quinton Porter (who red-shirted his would-be senior season) got hurt, Matt was elevated to the backup role in his first year on the active roster.

Matt saw his first game action against UMass in October of ’04, connecting on two of three pass attempts. He tossed his first touchdown in a November game against Temple. One week later, replacing injured starter Paul Peterson, Matt made his first collegiate start in the last game of the season, against Syracuse. He threw for 200 yards on 24-for-51 passing in a loss to the Orangemen.

The Eagles finished 8–3, good enough for an invitation to the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte. Matched against UNC, a future Atlantic Coast Conference rival, they won 37–24. Peterson was back in the lineup and took home MVP honors. Matt saw a few downs of action, completing one pass for 13 yards. In the year’s final polls, BC was ranked #21 nationally.

With Peterson graduated and Porter healthy, Matt was looking at another year as BC’s backup in 2005. The Eagles were now members of the ACC, and Matt watched and learned as Porter led the team to several impressive victories, including a great performance against Virginia. BC began to struggle, however. In losses to Virginia Tech and UNC, Porter could not get the offense going. Looking for a jolt, O’Brien turned to Matt as the team’s quarterback in the final four starts of the season. He responded by leading the team to a first-place tie in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

Matt RyanMatt Ryan
Matt RyanMatt Ryan
Matt RyanMatt Ryan

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