Quarterback Ryan Nassib back home in West Chester as he awaits NFL draft

Ryan Nassib, here playing for Syracuse, is expected to go high in Thursday's NFL draft. In a weak quarterback class, he could be one of the first selected. Nassib offers athleticism and experience in different offenses, and he won two bowl games without elite talent around him. Associated Press Photo
Ryan Nassib, here playing for Syracuse, is expected to go high in Thursday's NFL draft. In a weak quarterback class, he could be one of the first selected. Nassib offers athleticism and experience in different offenses, and he won two bowl games without elite talent around him. Associated Press Photo
Posted: April 25, 2013

Two days before Ryan Nassib's name may be called on national TV in the first round of the NFL draft, he returned to West Chester.

Nassib, one of the top college quarterbacks last season, prepped for Thursday's draft by criss-crossing the country the last three months trying to impress NFL decision-makers in personal workouts and interviews.

On Tuesday, he was back home, speaking to students at St. Maximilian Kolbe School. They were once like him, before he filled out to 6-foot-2, 227 pounds and became a football star.

"This is really where it all began," Nassib said.

Nassib attended St. Max from fifth through eighth grade before he moved on to high school at Malvern Prep and then college at Syracuse University.

His first time playing football was in fifth grade at St. Max as a starting fullback, and the team won the Philadelphia championship.

His father was the coach of that team, and he and Nassib used a pickup truck to move blocking sleds across the street to a public school for practice. On weekends, the family often went to Eagles games.

Many of Nassib's best friends today are classmates from St. Max, and they still discuss the time they beat St. Agnes. A slide show at the assembly Tuesday showed pictures of Nassib as a student, including him dressed as a dog in a school performance of Beauty and the Beast.

He answered questions about his time at St. Max, when, he said, he traded chocolate milk for iced tea each day. He was asked about his favorite quarterback, who happens to be Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, a Penn Charter graduate and fellow Chester County native. And he turned some of the students' queries into impromptu lessons.

"I played [football] four years here, four years in high school, and five years in college," Nassib said to the students. "So what's the math? Go!"

The start of a professional career could be added to the resumé Thurday, and Nassib has ascended on draft boards since the college season concluded. In a weak quarterback class, Nassib could be one of the first - if not the first - selected. He offers athleticism and experience in different offenses, and he won two bowl games without elite talent around him.

"I do think there are some other quarterbacks that will develop," said Jon Gruden, the former Eagles offensive coordinator, a Super Bowl-winning coach with Tampa Bay, and now an ESPN analyst. "But I don't think they're as ready as Ryan Nassib is because of his pedigree he has at Syracuse."

Nassib said he would watch Thursday's draft from his grandmother's home with family and friends. It was his choice, he said, because he wants to experience the big moment in the home of his late grandfather so "he could have a chance to watch over."

He said he doesn't know where or when he will be selected. But from what he's heard, he will be chosen on Thursday in the first round. Teams that have expressed the most interest are the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bills, who have the eighth overall pick, are coached by Doug Marrone, Nassib's coach at Syracuse.

"Wherever I go or wherever I've been, I've always made sure I never forgot where I came from and who helped me get to where I am today," Nassib said. "Everything I learned, everything I am, is from Philly. Whenever I tell people why I do certain things, I say, 'Oh, man, it's a Philly thing.' . . . It's a huge pride thing to be able to say you're from the area."


Local Prospects in the NFL Draft

Here are the top players with local connections in the NFL draft:

Sharrif Floyd, Florida, junior, defensive tackle. The 6-foot-3, 303-pound George Washington High School graduate is one of the top prospects in the draft and could go as early as No. 2 overall.

 Justin Pugh, Syracuse, senior, offensive line. There's a strong chance that the 6-5, 298-pound tackle, a graduate of Council Rock South High School, may move inside to guard. He may hear his name called before the end of the first round. He made 34 starts for the Orangemen over the last three years, earning all-Big East honors in 2012.

Rob Lohr, Vanderbilt, redshirt senior, defensive tackle. A three-year starter for the Commodores, the 6-4, 290-pound Phoenixville High graduate finished his career with 311/2 tackles for losses and 11 quarterback sacks. He notched five tackles, including three for losses, in last season's 27-26 win at Mississippi.

Brandon McManus, Temple, senior, punter/place kicker. The 6-3, 190-pound North Penn High School graduate is Temple's career leader in scoring (338 points), punting average (45.4 yards), field goals (60), and field goals attempted (83). Last season, McManus hit 14 of 17 field-goal tries, including a 50-yarder against South Florida.

Nick Moody, Florida State, senior, linebacker. The 6-2, 237-pound Roman Catholic High graduate ran the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds at the NFL combine in February. He could be picked in the later rounds or end up an undrafted rookie free agent.

Logan Ryan, Rutgers, junior, cornerback. The 6-0. 190-pound Eastern High graduate left Rutgers early after being a two-time all-Big East selection. He was a 2012 semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award that is given to the top defensive back in the nation.

Gerald Hodges, Penn State, senior, linebacker. Recruited as a defensive back, the 6-1, 243-pound graduate of Paulsboro High was a big-play maker and recorded more than 200 tackles over the last two seasons.

Mike Ragone, Kansas, fifth-year, tight end. A graduate of Camden Catholic, the 6-4, 246-pounder went to Notre Dame and transferred for his final season of eligiblity to Kansas. He missed the entire 2008 season and most of the 2011 season with knee injuries.

Mike Mauti, Penn State, senior, linebacker. This 6-2, 243-pounder showed flashes of greatness in college. But injuries marred nearly every season, and teams may be reluctant to use a pick on him.

- Rick O'Brien and Marc Narducci


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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