All for one

By JOHN GORALSKI

SPORTS WRITER

Ryan Glasper shied away from the Massachusetts press in 2006, so one newspaper had to run a photo taken through a fence when they highlighted the strong safety in an early November issue. Glasper didn’t want any credit for the resurgence of the Boston College defense, but fans were quick to point it out.

“His fingerprints are all over the place,” wrote columnist Karen Guregian in a story for the Boston Herald. “They’re in the huddle. They’re in the film room. They’re on the practice field. They’re in the defensive backfield on gameday.”

It had been four weeks since Glasper had returned to the starting lineup after an early season injury. The Eagles had surged from last place in the college rankings to 62nd after four consecutive wins and two shutouts. The team went on to finish the season ranked 34th out of 119 NCAA Division I-A teams, and Glasper was at the center of almost every tackle.

“He’s made a huge impact. He’s had as much to do with our turnaround than anything,” former BC coach Tom O’Brien was quoted as saying. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm to the practice field. The freshmen see how they’re supposed to practice, how they’re supposed to study film. He’s a major reason why the defense has played so well.”

Southington fans just smiled and shrugged their shoulders. They already knew about Glasper’s impact on anything he attempted. For three fall seasons, he led the Southington gridiron with his passing, rushing, receiving, and special team abilities. For three winters, he led the local team as a fierce defender and in the spring he led the sprinters.

Glasper was more than just a superstar. He was a role player, a coach, and a fireplug all rolled into one. When it came to sports, Glasper had the Midas touch.

“Ryan was an excellent athlete in everything that he did. There was no question about that,” said former Blue Knight football coach Jude Kelly. “He had speed. He had strength, and he had a tremendous competitive edge. He just loved to compete, and he took a great deal of pride in one-on-one competition. When he stepped out onto the field, he was going to find a way to win.”

According to Glasper, sports was more than a way to gain acclaim or prove his superiority. It was a way to fit in and a way to grow. He transferred to Southington High School to get away from the temptations and struggles he faced in New Britain, but he admits that the suburban setting was a sort of culture shock when he arrived.

“I definitely consider it a pivotal moment in my life,” he said. “It helped me grow as an individual. It helped me become more diverse with different cultures and different ways of living. People did things a little bit differently. They were more ambitious in a lot of ways, and it opened my eyes up to things that I wouldn’t have been able to see if I stayed in New Britain.”

As a freshman, Glasper tried to lead separate lives as a part of both communities, but it soon became clear that something had to change. He was always drawn to sports. He was always athletically gifted, so in his sophomore year he jumped right in. He soon found the camaraderie and friendships that would carry him into a collegiate career, and his impact on his teams was immediate.

“We saw his athleticism right away,” said Kelly. “Back then sophomores didn’t even step onto the field with the varsity team, but Ryan was one of those kids that moved up pretty quick. We found all kinds of different positions for him to play. We put him at receiver. We put him at defensive back, and he even played quarterback at one point until we settled him in as a receiver and a defensive back.”

Few players can match Glasper’s numbers in any position, but nobody can match his versatility. Over three seasons with the Knights, Glasper accumulated 4,017 all-purpose yards. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry as he rushed for 982 yards and 12 touchdowns. He completed 47-of-99 passes (47.5 percent) for 623 yards and eight scores. As a receiver, he caught 98 passes for 1,916 yards (19.6 average) for 21 scores.

He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns his junior year. He returned a trio of punt returns into the end zone and returned one interception.

His quarterback rating of 118.9 is better than most professionals, and it earned Glasper recognition as an all-American in 2001.

“I was just worried about being a member of the team and doing what I was supposed to do,” he said. “God gave me some talent. If I could better the team in any way, that’s what I did. I don’t mind sacrificing. I don’t mind playing my role if that’s what I want to do, but I’m not worried about taking the reins if I can. I don’t mind stepping up and laying myself out on the line for the team. That’s life, you know?”

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