Kevin Ryan has come a long way since he languished on the beach with the freshman football team at Madison High in Vienna, Va.
Ryan, a 6-foot-3, 235 pound senior is a starting offensive tackle for Navy, considered the most powerful straight-ahead blocker on the team.
Ryan's journey to that status was marked by three years of high school ball in Spain, two years of junior varsity here and considerable work in the weight room.
"I didn't get in for one play in Madison's freshman team," Ryan said, "but when we went to Spain the football was not really comparable. I didn't need to worry about being cut or anything."
Ryan attened school at the naval base in Rota, where his father, a Navy captain, was stationed. Going both ways, he was an All-Europe selection at defensive end.
"The coaching and equipment were not up to standards there, but the spirit was big. Everybody went to the games."
Ryan also represented Rota in championship wrestling and track-and-field competition in Germany placing second in the discus.
"No. I haven't tried the discus here," Ryan said. "Football is a year-round sport."
After two seasons as a junior-varsity lineman at Navy, Ryan and defensive end Jim Degree, now out with a knee injury, "made up our minds we weren't going to do that next year (1976). We really worked on the weights. It helped me a lot. Lifting can be boring if it's something you have to do, but not if you're doing it on your own, with something in mind."
A 205-pounder as a plebe, Ryan has added 30 pounds since football became "year-round." This summer, returning from Mediterranean duty aboard the guide-missile cruiser Albany, Ryan took up residence in the weight room at the Pentagon, where is father is presently stationed.
"I like the physical aspect of football," Ryan said, "and the stronger I got the more enjoyable it became. When you come off the line and hit someone, the tougher dog is the winner. Every play offers a challenge. Last week The Citadel had a sophomore tackle and I came out of nowhere and wiped him out on a trap play. That's what makes it all worthwhile."
If few fans in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium appreciated Ryan's effort, one was undoubtedly smiling. Ryan's father is an expert at watching offensive tackles, since younger brother Pat holds down the same position for Madison.
"My father doesn't really see much of what is going on" Ryan laughed. "He's always watching me."
For a while last year, Ryan, switched from guard to tackle, wasn't too sure of what was going on, either, and he thanks offensive assistant Tom Bresnahan for his patience.
"I was always forgetting my assignment," Ryan said. "I really pity coach Bresnahan for putting up with me. This year has been a lot easier. I'm able to get a concept of the whole play, what the backs and other people are doing. I'm not just worrying about making a mistake and going to the bench."
Ryan has sat on enough benches.