Ryan O’Rourke Set to Lead BW Offense in 2012
BEREA, OHIO -- Three years ago, Ryan O'Rourke made a big decision. It was a decision that changed his life. It also had a large impact on the fortunes of the Baldwin Wallace University football program. This fall, he has high hopes of leading the Yellow Jackets to another Ohio Athletic Conference title and back into the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
O'Rourke, who graduated from Avon High School four years ago and had an outstanding scholastic career as a quarterback for the Eagles, received a scholarship to NCAA Division II Slippery Rock (Pa.) University in the spring of 2009. But, despite playing in five games and starting two as a freshman, he felt there was something missing. Enter the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets.
"I loved my time at Slippery Rock, and would not trade it for anything," said O'Rourke, who completed 31-of-52 passes for 596 yards and two touchdowns for The Rock. "I learned multiple things about myself and the game of football and I cannot thank the coaches there enough for the opportunity. But, I have really found a home at BW. The opportunities that have been presented here also have been tremendous. We had an outstanding season a year ago. This year, we hope to take it to the next level."
"We recruited Ryan while at Avon and felt that BW, his major of education and his style of play were a great fit for our program," said 11th-year Yellow Jacket Head Coach John Snell. "Yes, we were disappointed when he accepted a scholarship at Slippery Rock, but we certainly understood his situation and decision. And, with all of the young men who we feel would be a great fit, we left the door open for Ryan in case things didn't work out for him.
"Obviously we were pleased when he decided to transfer to BW because we knew he could help our football program and we could help him to achieve his goals both in the classroom and on the field," said Snell, who's team is 15-5 overall the past two years with O'Rourke as its starting QB. "It has worked out very well both for Ryan and our program.
"Ryan is a natural leader," continued Snell, who's Yellow Jackets were 8-2 a year ago and ended the season ranked 24th in Division III. "That is why he was a team captain last season and probably will serve in that capacity again this fall (candidates for team captain at BW both have to submit a resume and go through an interview process). He also is quite intelligent in the classroom."
In addition to O'Rourke's excellence on the field, he maintains an outstanding 3.5 grade point average in the classroom and earned Academic All-Ohio Athletic Conference and CAPITAL ONE Academic All-District VII honors.
As a junior in 2011, O'Rourke had his best collegiate season. He started all 10 games and at times alternated with "wildcat QB" junior Andrew Dziak (Maple Heights/Padua Fransiscan). He completed 129-of-221 passes for 1,611 yards for a 58.4 percent with 12 touchdowns and ran for a career-high 117 yards and another score. He was tabbed as the OAC Offensive Player of the Week on September 19 following his performance in a 35-20 win versus Heidelberg University in Berea. In that game, he completed 24-of-29 passes for a career-high 279 yards and three touchdowns.
"Ryan is a leader who is multi-talented," said QBs Coach and Offensive Coordinator Keith Grabowski. "He has a strong arm and can throw the ball from a set up position or on the run, and he has the ability to be a solid runner either when he is scrambling or when we run the option.
"When Ryan is on the field, he is all business," continued Grabowski. "He is focused on making everyone around him a better football player. He also is great with the younger student-athletes in our program. They all definitely look up to him. They know he is an excellent student both in the classroom and of the game of football. There definitely is a maturity factor."
In his first season as a starter at BW, he led the Yellow Jackets to a 7-3 record. He completed 119-of-213 passes for 55.9% with 1,513 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was named as the OAC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in a 38-14 victory against The College of Wooster in his first game as a Jacket on September 2, 2010. He also ran for a career-high 111 yards in 10 attempts in a 35-20 win at Heidelberg.
"Each year that I have played at the collegiate level, I have learned a great deal," said O'Rourke, who has completed 265-of-458 passes for 58.5% for 3,457 career yards and 30 TD during his three years as a QB. "This season, I hope to put it all together in the hopes that it will lead us to an OAC title and a spot in the playoffs. That is the goal, and I am focused on working hard to help make it happen."
The Yellow Jackets open the 2012 season on Saturday, September 8 when it hosts non-league foe Bluffton University at 3:00 p.m. on Family & Community Day at The George Finnie Stadium in Berea.
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