Once again this school year, PressBox will follow a local athlete who has achieved enormous success both on and off the playing field. Jarid Ryan is a senior at the Severn School in Severna Park. A football, basketball and track standout, he is also an honor student, who is being recruited to play college football.
The son of the Jeff and Sharrone Ryan of Glen Burnie, he is the younger brother of Jahaira Ryan, a former basketball player and scholar-athlete at Severn who is now a sophomore at the University of Maryland.
As a sophomore and junior defensive back, Jarid Ryan helped the Admirals reach the Metro Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship game in football the last two years. Now a 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior, Ryan plays both safety and wideout for coach Chris Kirchenheiter, who arrived three years ago and has led the Admirals to a pair of conference championship games and a 19-8 overall record.
Ryan has been offered scholarships to Colgate and Bryant University in Rhode Island. Bryant coach Marty Fine has a roster featuring more than 20 players from Maryland, including Ryan Black and Jordan Horne of Loyola Blakefield, Paul Taylor of Poly, Ryan Caruso of Howard, Brian Taylor of Howard and Edwin Thomason of Chesapeake (Baltimore County).
Ryan is also one of the area's premier basketball players. A three-year starter in basketball, he played during the 2012-13 season for first-year head coach VJ Keith, whose team improved considerably during the second half of the season and finished a perfect 16-0 to win the Annapolis Area Christian School summer league.
Ryan is also the defending MIAA champion in the high jump. During the spring of 2013, under the direction of Severn coach Richard Zmuda, Ryan jumped a career-best 6 feet, 2 inches to win his first championship.
Academically, he is an A student who carries a 3.0 GPA. His schedule includes economics, English, forensics, concert choir, honors calculus and photography.
The Admirals have moved up to the MIAA B Conference in football. They are 3-1 this year with wins against St. Vincent Pallotti, Annapolis Area Christian and St. Alban's and a loss to open the season against St. Mary's-Ryken. They play their first league game Oct. 5 at Boys' Latin.
Ryan was a preseason All-State selection and among the leaders of the Severn football team, along with Michael Bucci, Jack Munroe, Nick Diamondidis, Roy Toomer, Joe Yearby, Brian DeStefano and Brian Denin.
In August, the Admirals beat Arundel, 46-43, to win the competitive AACS summer basketball league. Ryan and fellow seniors Rylan Collier, Cole Smith, Jamie Soderlund and Munroe, as well as juniors Yearby and Toomer, all return from a Severn team that finished 14-17, but lost seven games by two points or fewer or in overtime.
Joining them will be freshman Cam Norman, one of area's premier ninth graders, and an impressive group of junior varsity players in hopes of earning a berth in the B Conference playoffs.
Collier spent the summer playing for the Maryland 3D AAU team of Baltimore, which reached the finals of the nationals in Orlando, Fla.
Press Box: Your senior year is now about a month old. How is it going, and has it lived up to your expectations so far?
Jarid Ryan: Everything's good so far. School is going well and football couldn't be better. It started kind of rough, losing the opener. But the chemistry's gotten a lot better. We're 3-0 in our last three games. They've been all out-of-conference games. We played in back-to-back conference championships the last two years. …
I know a lot of people are anxious to see how we do against the tough B Conference competition. Some people want to see us do well. Some don't. We're going to play as hard as we can. We don't really care who we match up against. We're going to play our game.
Every year is a growing process for me. I've learned something about myself every year. I came to Severn when I was in sixth grade. The Severn community is very welcoming. My sister went here, so I knew a lot about it, so they made me feel like I was part of the community already. I knew this was the place for me. The teachers welcomed me. Coaches welcomed me.
PB: You're a good student. When did you realize academics were important?
JR: At a young age my parents told me academics was everything. Elementary school -- coming home right after school and getting my homework done and then having my parents go over it -- that was important. Studying at night, that just stuck with me my whole life. I come home from high school after practice, and I don't go in to watch TV. I crack the books and study or go and do some reading or other school stuff. My parents instilled that in me at a very young age.
PB: What do you read?
JR: My grandmother has me reading the news a lot. She wants me to actually know what's going on. She'll call up and check up on me, ask me questions about things she expects me to know.
PB: You grew up playing basketball, but not football. But you always played sports. Why?
JR: My family was always into sports. I didn't play football until I got to high school, but I played basketball since I was about 8 years old. I played for the Harundale Hornets. Pat Smith and Darnell Jones coached me my whole life until I got to high school, and they taught me a lot. They guided and developed me as a basketball player and as a person. I've loved basketball since I was really young. I always did have a passion for it. My whole family loves it.
PB: Why did you decide to play football?
JR: My freshman year, they told me they needed more bodies, more guys to play. So I did. We didn't have a real good year. It was a real learning experience. I wasn't used to the contact. I'd shy away from everything and I almost didn't play my sophomore year. But we got a new coaching staff. Coach K (Chris Kirchenheiter) and [assistant coach Pat Morrison] encouraged me to come back out. So I did, and I loved it. The team became so much closer. Some of the seniors took me under their wing and made me really love the game. That's when I knew this was something I wanted to do.
PB: You love basketball, and you're good at it, but it looks like now you're going to play football in college.
JR: Yeah, how about that? Coach K and coach Morrison helped me a lot through the recruiting process [and] getting my film out there, encouraging me to get it out there. I've got an offer from Colgate and one from Bryant and am still waiting to hear back from a lot of Patriot League schools and [Colonial Athletic Association] schools.
PB: Basketball remains your passion, and your team last year improved as the season went on and then won the summer league championship. You have to be looking forward to the basketball season.
JR: We're real excited about this year. Coach V.J.'s really instilled the team aspect of basketball, and our chemistry really came together. It's just a great situation. We played like a team and you get the feeling something really good is coming this year. We all have the same mindset: Hard work is everything. You can have all the talent in the world. You can have the skill, the height, the athleticism, everything. But it's all about hard work. Hard work beats talent any day.
PB: How do you deal with everyone's expectations? You're so good in basketball and football. Can you put into perspective how overwhelming it can be trying to please everyone? I know coach Keith has tried to deflect the pressure and expectations and told you to just go out and have fun.
JR: There's definitely pressure. It comes around every season. People always expect you to do better -- win a bunch of games, go undefeated, beat everybody by 20 points, make the highlight plays. I just try to play through it and play my game, try and help the team the best I can. I don't worry about what people are saying about what I should be doing. I try and listen to the coaches and apply it to my game and help the team win.
I'm much more comfortable now with that. Coach VJ's really helped me with that. Me, Rylan, Cole, Jamie, we've been together since freshman year. We've all had some ups and downs, but we've grown together, all of us. Our basketball IQ is getting better. Our skills are getting better. The team chemistry is there. We know what to expect from everyone, and we don't put pressure on each other.
PB: Your coaches say you're a natural leader. Now you're a senior. You're doing to some of the young players what the seniors did for you when you were a freshman and sophomore. Cam Norman is one of the best freshmen in the area. Do you see a lot of him in you?
JR: Cam's going to be a great player. He has no fear against anyone. That's what I love. He's going to help us tremendously. You sometimes forget he's only a freshman. We try to help him as much as possible. The upperclassmen and the seniors, you always look after the freshmen, point them in the right direction [and] try to keep them away from the wrong crowd. We were there once, and not that long ago. I love Cam. He's something.
PB: Your sister was also a basketball player and a great student. How much of an influence has she had on you?
JR: She tells me everything I need to know about college -- the ins and outs. I was a freshman when she graduated. She always got good grades. She was a role model for me -- very involved in the community, very involved in the church. I always looked at her as someone I could go to for advice or any help that I needed. She always had my back.
PB: It's still early in your senior year, but graduation, the prom, all of those things will be here before you know it. This is your last year. Are you savoring your last year at Severn?
JR: I don't want to look too far ahead. I don't want to wish my senior year away. You only go through this once. I try to live in the moment, one day at a time. I'm excited about it. We have a homecoming game coming up (Oct. 12 versus John Carroll), then basketball season next. I'm excited about it all.