Offensive linemen are football's unsung heroes. They are perceived as not as athletic, not as skilled, not as smart, not as important. But the position requires all of these in addition to sheer determination and incredible focus.
The fans' eyes are on either the guys throwing the ball or carrying it. The game moves so quickly that even the camera often misses that key block made by the offensive linemen.
Growing up, the offensive lineman spot was always for the “bigger” guys on the team that aren’t as skilled or athletic as the other kids on the team.
At the college level this is completely different. You need to have the most athletic individuals playing on the offensive line. This position takes grit, passion and not a lot of credit.
I was fortunate enough as a kid to be able to play the sport I loved. I played flag football in 1st and 2nd grade and got told too many times I was too physical and needed to move up to tackle football. Third grade is where tackle football started for me, and I began my football journey.
Season after season passed – undefeated seasons. We were all in the unique position of never knowing how it felt to lose a game growing up. We always assumed we would win.
From the time I was eight years old, I was fortunate to have that spirit and never even realized it.
The group of guys who I’ve played with on those teams reads like a who's who of future NFL superstars -- the best of the best. At Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colo., I played with Christian McCaffrey. At the University of Wyoming, I’ve played with, among others, Brian Hill, Josh Allen and many other great players. Individuals who will make a lasting impact at the next level. Christian was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft, and Brian Hill was later to be drafted by the Atlanta Falcons.
On the field and off, we all had a special bond. It was their job to find a hole and attack it with a purpose. It was my job to make that hole. We worked like a machine. They knew they could depend on me in those tough situations, and I knew I could depend on them. I had their backs and they had mine. That’s how this stuff works.
You will never have such a special bond with so many individuals than playing college football. These are the guys you grind with, suffer with, win with and lose with. These are your brothers. This is your family away from home.
Not many people get the opportunity I had, to play and block for two of the best running backs in college football, let alone two great men that have left a lasting impact on their states, schools and the individuals they were around for the three years of their college careers.
Going into my senior year, I intend to lead this team to the best of my ability and leave a lasting impact on every individual on this team. I also have the privilege to protect the potential #1 overall draft pick this coming year in my teammate Josh Allen and hopefully make a name for myself. I will do anything for this team and when they look at me I want them to know I gave it my all and left nothing behind. I plan to strive for my dream of playing in the NFL and will put in any amount of work that it takes to get there.
Ryan Cummings returns in 2017 as the starting right tackle for the Wyoming Cowboys. He is a senior communication major at the University of Wyoming. Cummings started 26 consecutive games for Wyoming before suffering an injury seven games into the 2016 season that cut his junior season short. He was a key leader on last year’s Cowboy team that won the Mountain West Conference Mountain Division and earned a Poinsettia Bowl bid. In high school, Cummings helped lead Valor Christian to the Colorado 5A State Championship his senior season of 2013. Valor Christian was ranked as the No. 24 best high school team in the nation in 2013 by MaxPreps. His former Valor teammate, running back Christian McCaffrey, made his NFL preseason debut last night for the Carolina Panthers, who defeated the Houston Texans 27-17. His college teammate at Wyoming, running back Brian Hill, will make his NFL preseason debut tonight for the Atlanta Falcons in a game versus the Miami Dolphins.