What kept future NFL MVP from playing for Malvern back in 1999?
In 1998, Mike Ryan was the starting quarterback for Malvern Prep, and his younger brother Matt was ready to follow in his brother’s footsteps and be Gamp Pellegrini’s next star quarterback.
But it didn’t exactly work out that way.
In his SS Philip and James middle school yearbook profile, Ryan indicated that he planned to attend Malvern and graduate with the Class of 2003.
However, in the fall of 1999, Matt Ryan decided to enroll at Malvern’s Inter-Ac opponent, Penn Charter. At the time, it did not seem like this would happen.
As for what caused Ryan to choose Penn Charter of Malvern, it’s anyone’s guess.
Swimming and Water Polo Coach Jay Schiller, whose children played Little Quakers football with Ryan, believes he attended Penn Charter on scholarship.
“There’s probably two reasons why Matt did not come here. In playing for the Little Quakers, the Little Quakers offer a Fox scholarship to attend Penn Charter, which allows someone to attend Penn Charter on a scholarship, and Matt Ryan earned that scholarship,” Swim Coach Jay Schiller said. “Also his uncle and Godfather John Loughery played football at Penn Charter and then Boston College and was the quarterback coach of the Little Quakers.”
Teacher and Former Head of School Mr. Jim Stewart has a similar opinion.
“I believe Matt was in line to enroll or had just enrolled, and then about a week or two later we got word from his parents that he was gonna go to Penn Charter,” Stewart said. “And we had heard that the reason was that there were relatives involved at Penn Charter who were involved with the football program, and that was one of the major reasons why he left and went to Penn Charter.”
Ryan went on to attend Penn Charter and later played at Boston College, leading them to their highest ranking in school history.
However, his successful career was only just beginning at BC. Ryan was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft and his NFL career has been a huge success ever since.
This year, Ryan reached the pinnacle of the NFL not only by playing in the Super Bowl, but also by being named MVP of the league.
Pat DiMarco is the fullback for the Falcons and is also the cousin of junior Sean Oates.
“Pat always says how Matt Ryan is not only a great quarterback, but also a great leader. He says he is the hardest working guy on the team and wants everyone else to be the best,” Oates said.
Back in 1999, it did not seem like a big deal that Matt backed out of enrolling at Malvern, but one Penn Charter championship, Boston College bowl win, and NFL MVP later, it probably would have been a good idea to try and persuade the so-called “Matty Ice” to stay at Malvern.
CORRECTION: The print version of this story listed Kevin Pellegrini as the head coach in 1998. Gamp Pellegrini was the coach for Malvern in 1998. The correction has been made online.