GREENVILLE — Wanting an opportunity to win, Greenville senior Ryan Drew signed his letter of intent Monday to play football for one of the most storied college football programs in the nation, The University of Mount Union.
Drew didn’t hesitate to answer when asked why he chose Mount Union, which has won 11 NCAA Division III national championships since 1993 and has played in the national championship game each of the past nine seasons.
“To win. That’s what it came down to,” said Drew, who plans to study accounting in college. “I love their campus. I felt comfortable there, more than any other place.”
Drew, the son of Rod and Jonie Drew, said the Mount Union coaches told him he could see playing time immediately in his freshman season for the Purple Raiders.
“They expect me to be able to come up there and help out right away,” Drew said.
Drew started 40 consecutive games for the Greenville High School football team. As a senior defensive end and linebacker he tallied 74 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for the Green Wave.
Mount Union told the 6-foot 3-inch, 235-pound Drew that it expects him to play linebacker for the Purple Raiders.
“It’s going to be fun,” the Greenville senior said. “I’m excited.”
Drew is a versatile player, Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer said, who has great size and runs very well. His physical stature and desire to win will be Drew’s strengths at the college level, Shaffer said.
“He’s as competitive as any kid I’ve ever been around,” Shaffer said. “I think he’ll do a great job. I think it will be a little eye opening. I think it is for any player who goes off to college. I talked with him, you’re no longer the big fish anymore necessarily. You’re just like all the other fish. You’ve got to do things that set you apart whether it’s your effort or your attitude and things like that. And Ryan is going to fit that bill. I think he’s going to work hard. He’s going to give himself and opportunity to play, and it sounds like an opportunity to play early from the conversations I’ve had with the coaches.”
Mount Union has played in the Division III national championship game in 17 of the past 21 seasons. Since 2000 the Purple Raiders have played for the national title every year expect in 2004.
“It’s one of a kind, especially at Division III,” Drew said. “They dominate. That’s what sold me. I’m ready to win.”
The opportunity to play for national championships was enough for Drew to turn down offers from other college teams including Division I and II schools. He also considered Ohio Dominican University, Ashland University, The University of Dayton, Tiffin University, Wittenberg University, The University of Indianapolis and The University of Charleston (W.V.).
“Having talked on the phone with coach (Vince) Kehres about Ryan, he’s excitable and a great coach that’s doing great things,” Shaffer said. “For our kids to be able to go play at that level, it shows the type of talent that we have here.”
Drew is the latest Green Wave player to continue his football career in college. A couple other Greenville players went on to the college level last year and several others are being recruited, Shaffer said, which is great for them and the program.
“I think it’s an important step for Ryan,” Shaffer said. “The opportunity to go play elite Division III football, a chance to play for national championships and conference championships and get himself a degree is certainly great for him and our program.”
Drew, who currently is playing on Greenville’s boys basketball team, still has to finish out his senior year of high school before moving on to Mount Union.
“The best four years of my life so far,” he said.