Extending his Career
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
August 20, 2007
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It was inevitable that Ryan Mundy was going to be asked to compare the talent level at Michigan and West Virginia when he was made available to the media last Friday afternoon. His soft-spoken, well-thought-out response was telling.
“Talent is everywhere,” he said. “At Michigan they obviously get 4 and 5-star players but all that stuff goes out of the window once you get to college. I feel like West Virginia has just as much talent as anywhere in the country.”
Mundy’s road to Morgantown for his final year of college football was as unique as it was uncertain. The Woodland Hills (Pa.) High School product played in the 2003 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was ranked among the Top 100 prep players in the country before choosing Michigan from a long list of schools.
He won three letters at Michigan playing in the Wolverine secondary, appearing in 35 career games and making 18 starts. A serious shoulder injury forced him to miss his junior season in 2005 and last year as a senior in 2006 Mundy started six games at free safety, collecting 25 tackles, a sack, an interception and a tackle for a loss.
“I bounced back and I played in all 12 games last year and I played well,” he said.
After the season, Mundy chose to take advantage of an NCAA rule permitting graduating seniors with eligibility remaining the opportunity of transferring to another school to complete their career.
“My understanding of the rule was you had to graduate and still have eligibility remaining,” Mundy said. “You had to transfer to a school that had a graduate program that was not offered at your previous school. That’s how I qualified under the rule.”
Michigan didn’t offer a graduate course in athletic coaching administration so Mundy was free to go to West Virginia to work on his master’s degree. “It was a tough choice because I had a lot of strong ties up at Michigan but this change was definitely for the better and something that I had to do and something I’m looking forward to doing,” said Mundy, declining to be more specific.
“There were some things that I really don’t want to get into right now but it was just best that I change schools,” Mundy explained, adding that his reason for transferring had nothing to do with football.
Despite satisfying the criteria to transfer, Mundy admits he harbored doubts that everything would eventually fall into place.
“There was a period of time when I was kind of uncertain about it,” he said. “I just stayed focused and was working like I was going to come down here.”
Now that he’s in Morgantown, Mundy has a lot of ground to make up in order to break into an experienced and deep defensive secondary that has all five starters returning. Mundy admits the differences in philosophies are profound.
“It’s totally different down here from the strength and conditioning program to the practice schedule. It’s just a different type of attitude,” he said. “Compared to Michigan, which is an already established program, down here at West Virginia we’re right at that peak right now and we’ve got to go over the hump.”
As far as the strength and conditioning program is concerned, Mundy says West Virginia’s program is much more intense than Michigan’s. Other players that have transferred to West Virginia have said similar things in the past, explaining that at some other places the players coming into the program are physically bigger and more explosive. West Virginia develops it.
“Down here we do a lot of Olympic lifts – squats, power clings, hang clings and things like that – and I hadn’t done that type of stuff since high school,” Mundy said. “I had to get my body back used to doing those types of movements. As far as the practice down here we run after practice and we never ran after practice at Michigan.”
Mundy is still getting used to an entirely different defensive scheme as well.
“Down here we run a 3-3-5 and up at Michigan we ran basically a 4-3. There is a difference there but as far as the coverages in the back end they are basically the same,” he said. “You’ve got man, man-under, cover two, cover three and things like that. As far as the structure of the defense and the different responsibilities it took a little while to get used to and I hit a little rough patch last week but I think I’m doing fine now.”
Mundy said he was aware of West Virginia’s unorthodox defense while playing at Michigan but he never really studied it closely.
“I knew they ran a 3-3-5 down here for quite some time but I never really paid attention to it because I was like, ‘What is that?’ Once I got down here it’s not a bad defense,” he said. “It just took some getting used to coming from a 4-3 basically all my life.”
Senior Vaughn Rivers believes it’s just a matter of Mundy feeling comfortable and fitting in before he makes an impact in the secondary.
“He’s doing real well. He’s back there making plays and starting to get comfortable,” Rivers said. “The one thing he has to do is fit into the program and feel comfortable and then you can make plays as you do anywhere else.”
An obscure NCAA rule has allowed Ryan Mundy the opportunity to extend his college football career one more year. That has given him the chance to experience another longstanding college football rivalry in the annual Backyard Brawl between West Virginia and Pitt. It will have added meaning because the game pits his hometown school against the school he is presently playing for.
“Michigan-Ohio State is pretty fierce,” he smiled. “I haven’t really experienced the Pitt-West Virginia rivalry other than what I’ve seen on TV but once the game comes around it’s a whole other world when you’re actually in the game. It will probably be different but we’ll see on December 1st.”
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