Lott IMPACT Trophy | Honoring College Football's Defensive Best

“IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT, THE MIND CAN ACHIEVE IT.”

-RONNIE LOTT

Catching Up With… DeMeco Ryans

Catching Up With… DeMeco Ryans

HOUSTON – DeMeco Ryans was reflecting back on his first visit to California in 2005.

At the time, he was finishing up a stellar career as a linebacker at Alabama. He had been a stalwart on a defense that was among the best in the nation and he had been nominated for several post-season awards, including the second annual Lott IMPACT Trophy.

“I remember flying around the country to different banquets and not winning any of the awards,” he said. “Then I had to fly all the way to California for another one.

“I was so happy to win the Lott Trophy and so enjoyed my time there. The weather was beautiful and the organization and the people were great.”

Ryans was a popular choice. Gregarious and entertaining, he helped pave the way for the winners who would follow. Runner-ups in 2005 were A.J. Hawk of Ohio State and Darryl Tapp of Virginia Tech. Legendary NFL Coach Bill Walsh was the keynote speaker.

“The award is the most coveted I’ve ever won,” he said. “It means so much to me because it stands for so much more than just football.”

Ryans, now 31 and the father of a 2-year-old, has carried the banner of the Lott IMPACT Trophy throughout his career, on and off the field.

He has had a distinguished 10-year NFL career with the Houston Texans and the Philadelphia Eagles, making the Pro Bowl twice, being named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005 and compiling 971 career tackles.

Currently a free agent (after six years with the Texans and four with the Eagles), he continues to work out near his home here in Houston and will play one more year if offered a contract this summer.

“I had pretty much decided to retire after last season,” Ryans said. “But I started working out and decided to give it another shot if someone signs me.”

If not, he’s plenty busy as a family man and with his summer camp back home in Bessemer, Alabama. “The camp now focuses on academics. We show young kids life skills, help prepare them for high school and college. It goes from early June until late July.”

Since 2007, his foundation, the DeMeco Ryans Foundation has focused on youth in and around Bessemer, awarding as many as 20 college scholarships a year. The mission statement of his foundation is to create: “innovative programs that provide access to educational, recreational and healthy living insights designed to positively aid in the development of youth”

DeMeco Ryans: A role model of the highest order and an outstanding ambassador for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.

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