For Ryan Cipriani, blocking is as natural as breathing.
“I’ve always played line,” he says with a nasty smile. “I love it. I know I can block most anyone in the league. I love double-teams, making holes, and powering through people.”
The athletic offensive tackle has been leading the way for Blue Valley West running back Conley Willkins for years. For Cipriani, this isn’t business. It’s personal.
“He’s my best friend,” he says of his Jaguar teammate. “We’ve been best friends since I moved here in eighth grade. He’s an outstanding kid, a great running back, and the hardest runner I know.”
At 6-foot-4, 251 pounds, the senior lineman has plowed the road for the Jaguars’ rushing attack all season. Wilkins has rolled up over 1,600 yards on the ground, and quarterback Ryan Ralston has added another 800.
“He’s a power quarterback,” Cipriani said of Ralston, a class of 2014 prospect that, at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, certainly looks the part of a Division I signal caller. “I know I can lead up through the hole, and he doesn’t need much blocking. He’s pretty much unstoppable.”
Lining up at right tackle, Cipriani has become a cornerstone of head coach Scott Wright’s first playoff team since 2007. The ground game has been key to the Jaguars’ resurgence.
“We run a counter,” Cipriani says, describing one of the Jags’ base run plays. “I lead up inside. I always anticipate it before the snap, ready to blow somebody up.”
That nasty smile gets wider.
“I’m kind of quick for my size, and I love getting to the edge when we run stretch plays. The chance to use my athleticism and the opportunity to hit a guy I might have a hundred pounds on…I love it.”
Cipriani is still waiting for his first scholarship offer, but he’s heard from a wide range of programs.
“I’ve gotten e-mails from NAIA to Division I,” he says, anxiously. “I’ve gotten e-mails from Rice, Air Force, and the University of New Mexico. I’ve received mail from UCLA, Drake, South Dakota, Southeast Missouri, Northwest Missouri, North Dakota, and Central Oklahoma.”
As he begins the process of deciding where he will play college football, Cipriani has already considered what matters most to him.
“I’m not worried about distance,” he says, assuredly. “I love my family, but if a school has what I want to major in and a good football program, I’m down to go.”
With his eyes on a degree in engineering or business, Cipriani knows where he would like to be.
“I love Kansas State,” he says, nodding his head. “My sister is a student there, and she likes it.”
As the Wildcats set their sights on a Big 12 title and a BCS bowl bid, Cipriani has set his on Manhattan, KS.
“They took some huge strides, and they continue to get better and better as the season goes on. I would love to go to K-State.”