HOUSTON -- A Boston College press release from Feb. 5, 2003, touted the top recruits in the Eagles' 23-member football recruiting class.
Matt Ryan wasn't mentioned.
A total of 14 players, including current Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus and current New Jersey-area coach/substitute teacher/trainer Andre Callender, were singled out in the release as key members of a class that ranked as high as 10th nationally. The only quarterback referenced was Paul Peterson, a transfer from Snow Junior College in Utah.
And then there was Ryan, a three-star recruit from Penn Charter in Philadelphia.
"I was a 170-pound, triple-option quarterback," Ryan said. "So, yeah, I remember being like a three-star guy."
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback is on the verge of being named the NFL's MVP as he guides his team into a Super Bowl LI matchup Sunday against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Ryan wasn't the most highly touted recruit, but his rise to a top-caliber NFL talent should be a message to all the players signing national letters of intent Wednesday.
Ryan was recruited by Iowa, Georgia Tech, Connecticut and Purdue before picking Boston College.
"I remember signing," Ryan said. "It was at my high school. We had a number of different athletes at our school who were signing to go to different places. And it was a fun event. I chose BC because it was an awesome place. It's a great school. It's a great place to play football. The city is one of the best to go to college in. There's so many schools, so many different places you can go hang out. It's was an awesome place, and I'm glad I made that decision."
According to Rivals.com, Kyle Wright was the top pro-style quarterback in the 2003 class, followed by Chris Leak and Tommy Grady. Ryan was ranked No. 25 on a list that also included JaMarcus Russell (No. 5), Brady Quinn (No. 10), Matt Flynn (No. 16), and Super Bowl champ Joe Flacco (No. 39).
"Some different guys, some guys who went to other places," Ryan said. "It's not a perfect process, high school recruiting. People develop at different times. Joe [Flacco], obviously, started off at Pittsburgh and ended up at Delaware. He found his stretch and has had a great career. And I feel like I've done a good job as well."
Longtime recruiting analyst Tom Lemming recalled visiting Ryan in Philadelphia as part of his yearly national tour to highlight the nation's best players. Lemming said he was high on Ryan throughout the entire process.
"I interviewed him and gave him a really good buildup, but he wasn't a super-national guy," Lemming said. "That's why BC got him. If I go see a kid, I've got to like him, or else I wouldn't have spent the time to go see him.
"He was a passer. He didn't have great feet, but he was taller with a really good arm. Back then, pro-style guys were in much more demand. Nowadays, you've got to run a spread offense for college. But back then, him being a pro-style guy, it didn't really matter that he wasn't a great runner. He was a very productive player his last two years of high school."
Although Lemming was high on Ryan, he never imagined him developing into the player he is today.
"I'm surprised he turned out to be a great one," Lemming said. "I'm sure I had him higher than a three-star guy, though. The fact that he didn't have great mobility is probably why I didn't name him a five-star guy. ... The guy in Houston [Brock Osweiler] was a five-star guy for me. But right now, he's the one playing like a three-star."