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Keystone Oaks grad receives rookie of the year award

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 11:09 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Mercyhurst Athletics
Mercyhurst lineman and Keystone Oaks grad Ryan Carroll (No. 60) was named the ECAC Division II Defensive Rookie of the Year.

If you would have told Ryan Carroll a year ago during his senior year at Keystone Oaks he was on the verge of winning a national collegiate award for his play on the gridiron, he wouldn't have believed you.

The Mercyhurst freshman was named the Division II Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Eastern College Athletic Conference thanks to a strong debut season with the Lakers.

“It was a big shock,” Carroll said. “One of my teammates, Ben Gysin, congratulated me on Twitter, and that is how I found out. I would have never thought I would have won it in a million years. As a college player, to have someone pat you on the back feels really good.

“It isn't just an acknowledgment for the work I put in but also my teammates. I couldn't do it without them.”

Carroll was a force on the defensive line, recording eight tackles for a loss and finishing tied for third on the team with two sacks.

He recorded 24 total tackles, including 20 solo stops.

Carroll received the award March 27 at a ceremony at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The annual event honors outstanding on-field achievement by student athletes and officials and recognizes programs for success in eastern football.

Athletes from Division I FBS and FCS, Division II and Division III received awards.

Coming to the team out of high school was a difficult mountain to climb. But Carroll credited his teammates and coaches for helping transform him into a nine-game starter.

“Going into camp for any freshman is hard,” Carroll said. “You go in not knowing anybody. But the teammates I had were great. Dustin Glaich was a four-year starter on the line, and I looked up to him and he taught me a lot.

“The coaches really helped ease my transition and made it all go pretty good.”

Learning the position was a big part of the challenge as Mercyhurst runs a three-man front that emphasizes the stack. Carroll plays nose guard in the scheme.

“The nose guard and middle linebacker have a unique relationship,” Carroll said. “If I can take up two or three guys and let the middle linebacker get 20 tackles a game, I am doing my job.”

Above all else, the award serves as motivation for Carroll during spring practice.

Entering the spring, Carroll — who plans on pursuing a major in competitive business intelligence — began focusing on changing his body. The coaches challenged him to lose weight while becoming stronger and faster in his lateral movements.

Carroll said winning an award his first year with the Lakers is major motivation. He is now focused on winning a team championship.

“I want to help the team win a championship,” Carroll said. “I never had a chance to win one in high school.

“I want to be a vital part of winning a conference championship and maybe a national championship.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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