Patriots K – Chad Ryland – 2023 Draft, Pick 112
April 29, 2023
Q: Hey, congratulations. How you doing?
CR: I'm doing great. Thank you. Thank you. Super excited.
Q: What was it like to get the call?
CR: Oh, it was surreal. It's a huge blessing, and I'm super thankful for the opportunity and looking forward to making the most of it. But like, at the end of the day, there's a lot of work to be done. And I know that ahead of coming in, and I can't wait to get started.
Q: Chad if I recall, you had a little connection with Joe Judge in the pre-draft process. Can you refresh my memory on that?
CR: They came out to Pro Day, got to see me kick at Pro Day. I think they all might have been at the Combine too and probably the Senior Bowl. It's funny, I've gotten to see a lot of faces throughout this whole process and a lot of opportunities to kick on big stages. So I'm also super thankful for the opportunity to go to the Senior Bowl, the Combine and then University of Maryland for Pro Day. So just having those three opportunities to have those important people see me kick, I'm super thankful for.
Q: Did you have a feeling Chad that it might be the Patriots for you or was it sort of one of those you didn't really have a beat on that?
CR: I'm going to be honest with you, I was completely clueless in terms of where I was going. I knew it would be somewhere. I wasn't sure at all where. But I'm certainly glad it's in New England. I can't wait to be a Patriot.
Q: Have you ever been up in New England before?
CR: I actually have been up in New England before. I worked a kicking camp up in that area, up in the Foxborough area. So I've been up there once. I have some buddies in Boston that work up there. So I'm slightly familiar with the area but not too familiar.
Q: Just sparked one other thought, who was running the kicking camp that connected you? Or was it like you were coming to be part of the camp?
CR: No, it was with the Jamie Kohl and the Colts kicking gang. They had a high school camp. I traveled the country a little bit with them over this past summer to help high school kids grow. So I got to spend some time up there, which was awesome.
Q: Congratulations and welcome to New England man.
CR: Andrew [Callahan] nice to hear your voice again.
Q: Yeah, been a while. Just wanted to know what were some of the things the Patriots wanted to learn about you during the draft process? Sounds like you spent a lot of time with them.
CR: I think similar to everyone in this draft process, everyone's trying to figure out what kind of guy I am off the field. I'm just a normal guy. Then two, to what my ability was. I think that's what makes good kickers, is who they are off the field in terms of how they interact with people, and how they treat people in terms of treating people right, work ethic and everything that goes on off the field. Then correlating that with my ability. I think those were the two key factors.
Q: When you look at on the field it sounds like you take a pretty analytical approach in reviewing your kicks or kind of preparing for them. Can you walk us through just your process when you're looking at all the different factors that go into a kick?
CR: I can run you through a few of them quick. There's certainly a lot that goes into it. Especially when you're used to taking in some colder weather being from the MAC and the Big Ten get to kick in some interesting conditions. I think it's super important to be in tune with my body in terms of how I approach practice, games, training sessions on my own. Really just everything I do in life, and just do my best to maximize each opportunity. Because at the end of the day, it's how I handle things day-by-day to maximize my potential and get closer and closer to where I can be as a kicker, an athlete and a man of God. I'm just trying to better myself each day to be the best Chad Ryland I can be. But really just controlling the leg speed to match the body and make the ball do what I want to do in specific weather conditions. A lot of that comes from time, and I don't really have a great way to explain it to you, other than just really being in tune with my body to make the ball then do what I want it to do.
Q: Just wondering if you know about the Patriots tradition of kickers with with [Adam] Vinatieri, [Stephen] Gostkowski, Nick Folk recently, and if those guys are people that you followed when you were preparing?
CR: Growing up and not being a kicker until late in my high school career, but still being a fan of football, those are all names that I know and I have the utmost respect for. Those guys that have long careers and successful careers like they have, I couldn't speak higher about any of them. I don't even know them, that's the funny part. I don't know any of them personally yet. I'm sure I'll cross paths with them soon. But I have the utmost respect for those guys that kicked in the NFL for 10-plus years. They obviously do a lot of, a lot of things right and are awesome kickers.
Q: What can you tell us about Sidy Sow, a guy that you played with at Eastern Michigan that got drafted after you?
CR: Sidy's my guy. We actually had a FaceTime call together not too long after he got drafted. I think there were a little bit of tears in both of our eyes. It was a pretty emotional moment for us. We've been really, really, really good friend from the time we were both at Eastern Michigan. We're still in a couple of groups chats together. We like to joke back and forth with each other and whatnot. But Sidy is an awesome dude, awesome competitor, super strong, and just overall a really hard worker and great guy.
Q: What was the transition process like for you after spending those four years at Eastern Michigan and then kind of going into a different environment last season?
CR: I think Eastern Michigan really helped me build and develop my ability. Then the University of Maryland gave me the chance to perform on a bigger stage and just show what I can do at the highest level, and that's exactly what I wanted. I can't speak highly enough about Coach [Mike] Lock [Locksley] and literally every single personnel person and teammates I had in that building. They were super supportive of me for being a one-year guy there. They're like my second family now, similar to everyone at Eastern Michigan. But Maryland helped me show what I can do. I think it certainly helped me get to this position along with Eastern Michigan. So I'm super thankful for both places.
Q: I want to ask about your experience with weather conditions. New England lots of famous games just kicking in the cold, the wind, the snow. Obviously got to see a lot of that at Eastern Michigan. How do you feel about kicking in adverse conditions like that? Do you think that your college career set you up for success?
CR: That's a great question. I like that one because I think when you look at cold weather like that, obviously not the most ideal conditions to kick a football and not a lot of people want to kick in that, but I do. I'm a cold weather guy. I like the cold. I like the wind. For me, it's that challenge of bring it on. Obviously, there's a lot that goes into kicking in those conditions. So the challenge of doing that happened to really develop in terms of ball striking, understanding conditions and just everything that comes with it. I love it. Like I don't shy away from it. It certainly has helped me develop into the kicker I am today. So long story short, I guess I'm thankful for adverse conditions like that.
Q: You said that you weren't a kicker into late in your high school career. What can you say about that experience? How did you become a kicker?
CR: So I started kicking my junior year of high school. I was a four-year varsity starter for soccer and three-year varsity started for baseball as a pitcher. Then started kicking my junior year. The football team needed a kicker. I was a pretty good ball striker on the soccer field. My dad thought it would be something cool to try. First time out, end up knocking through a couple 50-yarders. So we were like, 'oh shoot, maybe there's a chance to run with this and play on Friday night.' I was fortunate to have two coaches, Coach [Rob] Wildasin and Coach [Bensing] at Cedar Crest high school that allowed me to play both sports my junior and senior year. I fell in love with football. Friday night lights can't replicate it. Then just continued to grow and develop. Realized I had a chance to play college, and then really just went after with everything I had. But I think for me, it's really the chase of kicking. You can always get better. There's always something to work on, something to develop to be a better kicker. But I love it. Everything about being a kicker, and really just being an athlete and a part of a football team in general is part of what makes the sport so great. I'm looking forward to keep playing here hopefully for a long time.
Q: The Patriots had Jake Julian in camp as one of your former teammates from Eastern Michigan. Have you talked to him about his experience in New England? Have you been in touch recently? I assume you're going to be in touch soon.
CR: Yes, sir. Jake is one of my best friends, will be from my whole life. Jake's experience in New England, he said he said he loved it. He had a great time. He said he was really challenged as an athlete to grow and develop every day. That's something I'm looking forward to do. Because Jake, similar to myself, we come from Eastern Michigan, played in tough conditions and just love kicking the ball. Love kicking balls high, straight and far, and getting better at it each day. We talk every day and I know he's super excited for me to be a Patriot right now. I'm sure we'll be talking more here in the coming days.