Before he was a Super Bowl champion, Ryan Hunter '13 was a boy who moved from North Bay, Ontario -- more than 300 miles away -- to Buffalo where he attended Canisius High School. He made the move to increase his visibility as a football player. However, Ryan would quickly find out that the academic and physical rigors of being a student-athlete at Canisius would be demanding.
“I went to a French speaking school in Ontario. It was a tough transition to get through the language barrier, even though I was fluent in English,” explains Ryan. “Taking science and math classes in English was difficult at first as I had only taken those subjects in French. It took time to get the hang of things.”
Once Ryan learned to ask for help, the transition to Canisius became easier.
"I came in very independent with the idea that I could handle all this myself,” said Ryan, who plays offensive guard. “I asked Coach (Rich) Robbins for help. He told me to talk to the teachers and 'show them that you’re a good student. The teachers at Canisius will put the time and effort into your academics if you put the time and effort in.'”
With the supportive faculty of Canisius behind him, Ryan became The Buffalo News Co-Player of the Year with teammate and now-Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison '14. Then, he accepted a scholarship to attend Bowling Green State University where started 52 games over his five-year career.
In the 2018 NFL draft, no team chose Ryan, but he signed as a free agent with the Chiefs and earned a spot on the practice squad. After one regular season-end call up, Ryan was again promoted from the practice squad for the playoffs, making him part of the Chiefs 2020 championship run which culminated in the Super Bowl LIV victory in Miami followed by Wednesday’s parade in Kansas City.
“It was the greatest moment of my life. Hundreds of thousands of fans lining the street cheering for you was amazing,” said Ryan.
Although he was inactive for the Super Bowl, Ryan was on the sideline as the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LVI on February 2.
“The entire final five minutes I was sick to my stomach. I was nervous. When our defense got a stop and we went up 24-20, I knew we would not give up the lead,” said Ryan. “I stood on the sideline with a towel clutched in my hands in the final two minutes. When we got the interception I knew we only needed a first down to win. I felt relieved and overjoyed when (running back) Damien (Williams) scored the touchdown. I ran on the field when the clock hit zero.”
Ryan says his goals now are to stay on the active roster, finish his MBA and go to law school.
“I want to play football until my body won’t let me anymore,” Ryan says. “But, I would like to make it so I can have real life jobs lined up when football is over.”
He credits the academic structure and social skills gained through attending Canisius for his success. After his time as a Crusader, Ryan has advice for incoming students and those thinking about attending.
“If you are thinking about Canisius I recommend you take the chance. This place is a community. They support one another, help each other grow,” Ryan reflects. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask teachers, guidance counselors, coaches. They put in the effort if you do. Then you will see that for academics and athletics, Canisius has the best of both.”