Saturday, 12 Feb. 2005
Ryan Hoag is what's next. If you don't know the name, don't worry, you will soon. Ryan is confident you will.
I caught up with Vikings wide receiver Ryan Hoag at the taping of The Show To Be Named Later, a Twin Cities-based sport, comedy, and variety hour-long show. The TV show airs on KARE-11 after Saturday Night Live. Though he'll be appearing on a late-night show, Ryan's ready for prime time.
Ryan grew up in Minnesota and I believe his favorite player growing up was Cris Carter. This local boy made good is most famous for being "Mr. Irrelevant." That title is 'bestowed' to the last person picked in the draft. Of course, this 'honor' really is an honor this guy was drafted by an NFL team! Many people people want to be pros but how many get there?
I heard Ryan talking to The Show To Be Named Later host Jonny Voss about the title and it's funny how oxymoronic the title is. In actuality, the title of "Mr. Irrelevant" makes Ryan even more relevant. His name comes up often at drafts and he has been interviewed often because of it. To be honest, I have a feeling that being 2nd to last is really irrelevant. Who talks about that guy?
But Ryan's looking to be very relevant in 2005. Ryan's goals are simple: Top 5 in the NFC in kickoff returns. That would put him in the class of Willie Ponder (Giants), Eddie Drummond (Lions), Torrie Cox (Bucs), Robert Ferguson (Packers), Michael Lewis (Saints). Very doable!
Willie Ponder averaged 26.9 over 36 returns. If you don't know the name, I'm not surprised at all. In fact, these guys can often rise from nowhere. Not too long ago, the number five returner Michael Lewis was driving a beer truck (thus his nickname is the Beerman). Now, he's a celebrity in New Orleans.
So is Ryan crazy to want to face guys running full-bore at him? I thought so before I asked him about it. I had to ask Ryan, is kick returning the craziest job in the NFL? After all, I've seen those guys lit up and fans expect someone to somehow catch the ball and run. Ryan opened my eyes on that thought.
Ryan's been there and done that and the craziest job is being on the other side of it. It's kickoff coverage that is crazy. It's being the 6-foot, 198-pound guy who's job is to bust up two 285-pound lineman. It's being the wedge-splitter that is crazy. Running full speed down the field and launching your body into bigger bodies does sound crazy and I believe Ryan's explanation. Thanks for setting me straight.
Local Boy Makes Good
I really wanted to know what benefits of being the local guy has been. Ryan suprised me with his answer. The best part of being local was during training camp. When the sun and two-a-days have been beating on you, being the local means you have extra support. Having fans yelling your name really helped Ryan during those summer days. After all, it's a cut-throat business and every edge helps. Knowing that people were pulling for him pushed him on. Hearing that, I have to say that next year I want to hear you Vikings fans cheering extra hard for Ryan. Do it because yes, he'll hear you.
That's an update on Ryan Hoag. I'm excited to see the dreams come true for this wideout. Watch for him at training camp and at the Metrodome next year.