For Ryan, getting his degree this spring fulfilled a promise he made to his parents when he entered the 2013 NFL Draft following his redshirt junior season. A third-round pick of New England last spring, Ryan held up his end of the deal this offseason when he finished the requirements for the degree in labor relations and minor in psychology that he received over the weekend.
"It's a big accomplishment in my life," Ryan told NJ.com. "I held my word to my parents and Coach [Kyle] Flood, and I stuck with it and I'm fortunate. It took a lot of work, but I was able to go back this offseason and finish and walk in this graduation."
Ryan actually began his schoolwork when the Patriots were still playing this past January, the rookie playing a key role for the defense by leading NFL rookies with five interceptions But the University was flexible with the cornerback before he actually returned to campus for classes when New England was eliminated from the postseason.
"My parents raised me to always finish what you start," Ryan said. "They didn't allow me to quit any teams. Growing up, if I was going to commit myself to doing something or if I had a new hobby, and my parents were going to pay for it or let me pursue it, they were going to make sure I took it seriously. Just like school, I didn't want to leave college and never finish. I committed to Rutgers, not only as a football player but as a student, so I was going to make sure I finished on that end, too."