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Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Father's Journey Part 2: Family Draft, by Michael Switzer

Michael Switzer is the Father of NFL prodigy Ryan Switzer. These are his words about his journey alongside his son, heading to the league.

Dive in, after the jump.

"It's kind of a surreal feeling.

My son's going to be one of those that is selected on the day of the draft. We've been looking forward to this for about 12 years.

When you start looking forward, you start having those conversations about all you need to do and all you need to train for to prepare for this.

I'm a big proponent of being prepared.

That has pretty much been our story: everything from graduating the University of North Carolina in three and a half years , so that he could prepare and train without having to worry about school this semester, to keeping himself healthy; all of this now is just a culmination of preparedness.

You know that just a small percentage of people get drafted to play professional sports. Such a small percentage. So we're lucky to be blessed to have that opportunity to take the time and work towards what we've worked towards. Just so that we have an opportunity in the end.

I think you combine hanging around the right people, good representation, good background, with hard work to get where he is right now.

I'm not an NFL coach or general manager or anything like that. But I have friends that have coached at various levels that I really respect. They have helped along on this journey, they have contributed to this road. I know how hard he has worked to get better and how he has worked on the things that he needs to work on. Ryan's a very driven, very level guy.

People want to label him just this or just that, just a slot receiver but I think Ryan is more than that. He is an exceptional athlete. The kid has played every sport you can play. He participated at the highest level. I still tell people today that if Ryan had been 6 feet tall or 6’ 1”, I very well would have been talking to Roy Williams about him playing basketball. He was an exceptional point guard in high school.

That's how I came up with the idea of the Switz Army knife.  Like I told somebody, you have to have the statistics to back that up, you can not just come up with the cool graphic. But he is the very definition of the word versatile.

For the NFL Draft, the actual days that they are happening, I just want to be surrounded by family. Ryan is the same way. Take my 5-year-old for instance. Whenever we are all together (it’s rare), be it a holiday or special occasion, she loves it. Recently she came out and said, “I love my family!” She’s 5. She doesn’t see Ryan much. But what’s important to her is what’s important to all of us.

Ryan just wants to hang out. There’s a field behind our house, with a basketball court on it, and I imagine we’ll be spending a lot of time out there this weekend. We might not even really watch the draft. A lot of football movies, Netflix, maybe. But we’ll get out to that field that he grew up on. When we first bought the house, Ryan kicked hole in one of the fence panels so that he didn’t have to go all the way around to get to the field. He identifies with that place, a field with a ball is home to him.

And Ryan sees this differently, but he has never beaten me in a game of basketball. He’ll probably want to get at me. Yeah, he’s fast and quick and all that, but nothing has changed in this matter. I will wear him out.

So this entire journey is very fulfilling. Again, no belaboring it, but such a small percentage of people get to the pros. We are so thankful. Thankful for the people along the way, the excellent coaches like Coach Gunter Brewer and Coach Larry Fedora.

That's Ryan's own personal statement and it brings tears to my eyes that he recognizes-- I mean his mom and I didn't sugar coat anything, she's a schoolteacher and I'm a graphic designer photographer who is self-employed. We come from a long lineage of public educators and people that were self-employed. That's why it's important because he carries on a lineage of people that give back to their community and worked harder to improve not only their own station in life, but those around them. Their family. That's what we told all of our kids. and Ryan, he has has been able to share that with others.

So, at this point, we are going to relax, have family time, enjoy one another, my wife is going to cook some good food, and we will thank God for what He has done.

In our family, I mean. First.

Football? That, too."