The road to a full-ride scholarship from the University of Miami was bumpy for Ryan Ragone.
Out of high school, Ragone didn’t receive a single letter from a college program despite guiding Pasadena Memorial High to the Class 6A state playoffs while thriving at multiple positions.
However, the former All-District football player didn’t give up, and so he walked-on at Arkansas State University. And like most walk-ons, Ragone didn’t see the field at all and served as a member of the scout team.
When reflecting at his tenure at A-State, Ragone believes his former team didn’t believe in him.
“There were times I felt [that] I wasn’t good enough to play and honestly I just wasn’t given the opportunities to prove I can,” Ragone told 305Sports.
“That’s part of the reason I left.”
His next move was quite the distant one, as he traveled 1,117 miles to be a walk-on at the University of Miami. When Ragone first arrived in Coral Gables, he recalls having low confidence in himself. But the desire to earn a scholarship outweighed his doubt.
“I prayed a lot about it and before the first day of practice,” he said. “I just told myself I’m going to give everything I got, and if that isn’t enough then so be it, at least I can say I gave it my all.”
And so Ragone worked harder than ever, and was given the opportunity to work his way from the scout team to up the ranks of the depth chart. As a redshirt freshman, he saw action in nine games at linebacker and on all four special teams units on punts and kickoffs.
Ragone made big plays in UM’s loss to Georgia Tech, recording four tackles and a tackle for loss in a career-high 31 defensive snaps.
It’s very rare than walk-ons, especially at a Power 5 program, get on the field on Saturdays, but Ragone’s praised UM’s coaching staff for not putting him to the side.
“Being a walk on is difficult just like anywhere else, but I would definitely say at Miami they hold walk ons to the same standard and treat the walk ons the same as they do scholarship players,” he added.
And throughout the ups and downs of the pandemic filled offseason, mixed with the thought of there being no season, the goal of achieving a scholarship is even harder now for student-athletes like Ragone.
But out of the blue, he recieved a phone call from head coach Manny Diaz.
“Coach Diaz gave me a call a few weeks ago and let me know that I would be being put on full scholarship this fall and honestly the call couldn’t have came at a better time,” Ragone noted.
“All the Coronavirus and the quarantine stuff going on had me down, so it was amazing to hear some great news like that from a person you admire so much.”
At last, he had achieved his dream.
“[The] first thing I did was just sit back and just think about everything I’ve been through,” he said.
“Not having one offer in high school, shoot not even getting one letter from a school in high school, to walking on at a group of 5 school and just bring a scout team guy and not being on any depth charts, to walking on at the University of Miami where so many people laughed at me when I told them that’s what I was going to do, to this moment right here, it was an amazing feeling.”
As Ragone heads into his redshirt sophomore season, he continues to work hard and set himself up for success.
“Here at Miami I never wanted to give up,” he said. “I kept setting goals for myself and all glory to God I kept reaching them so I just kept seeing more and more and it’s kept me going.”
And while he may have attained his much-desired scholarship, he has more envisioned.
“Like Coach [Blake] Baker says, just be where your feet are and everything else will come,” Ragone said. “So I’m just going to do exactly what got me here, keep my head down and keep working and wherever that takes me I’ll be excited and ready.”