By: Matt Hamilton, Sports Editor
Update (Jan. 27): Former cornerback Tye Smith was also invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, former TU linebacker Monte Gaddis tweeted. Smith finished second on the team with 85 tackles last season, receiving All-America honors, He finished his career with 312 tackles and six interceptions.
Congrats to my bro Tye Smith and Ryan Delaire on the NFL Combine invitations #Towson ✔️
— Monté Gaddis (@MonteGaddis) January 27, 2015
At this time last year, the buzz surrounded a former Towson football player that was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and had the potential to be drafted. Terrance West gave the school attention that it had not encountered in years.
Now, a new name is emerging for NFL Draft scouts across the country: Ryan Delaire. The former Towson defensive end recently received an invitation to workout at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis from Feb. 17-23.
Delaire said he’s grateful for the chance to compete at the Combine, but he knows there’s more work to do.
“I was very excited [to be invited], I’m not going to lie,” he said. “But at the same time, I took it as a moment to try to be humble and taking advantage of the opportunity that was given to me. There’s nothing to brag or boast on social media, I’m not that kind of person anyways.”
Delaire, who transferred from UMass after two years there, played two more seasons for Towson. In his two years, Delaire racked up 132 tackles, 22.5 sacks, four interceptions and five forced fumbles.
After helping the Tigers to the Football Championship Subdivision Championship game in 2014, Delaire made the All-CAA First Team and College Sports Madness’s All-American Third Team. He followed up in the fall with an All-American Second Team honor.
After experiencing a 6-17 record in his time with UMass, Delaire said Towson football had a different mentality that helped him improve as a player.
“I learned a whole lot from Towson,” Delaire said. “I learned a lot about responsibility and accountability and … just going hard to win the game. Before I came to Towson, I was on a team that everybody played for themselves. Coming to Towson, none of that ever mattered.”
After Towson’s season ended Nov. 22, Delaire began training twice a day in preparation for working out for NFL teams this year. He said he’s stronger than he was when the season ended and he expects to perform better at the Combine than he has in previous tests.
Soon, Delaire will be entering a process that current Cleveland Browns running back Terrance West went through just last year. West competed at the 2014 Combine and was eventually drafted by the Browns in the third round of the NFL Draft.
“Seeing what he has done, as far as him making it to the Combine, him getting drafted and him doing well in the NFL,” Delaire said. “Just seeing him do it motivates me.”
Delaire isn’t the only former Towson player garnering NFL attention this spring. Cornerback Tye Smith recently participated in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 17, which features primarily Football Bowl Subdivision players with potential draft chances.
With a handful of former players taking chances at the NFL, Head Coach Rob Ambrose said the success of these players is indicative of the rising stature of his program.
“It’s a small world that we live in these days, so having six or seven guys in [NFL training camps] last year,” Ambrose said. “… It just shows the quality of kids that we’re evaluating and bringing in. And kids know kids and they know how many guys we had in camps last year. They know that you can come here and have a shot at the NFL just like everyone else.”
In a few weeks, Delaire will join some 300 draft prospects at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Ambrose said Delaire’s mentality and raw talent made him the player is today; a potential NFL draft pick.
“He is very focused, with a tremendous goal-oriented work ethic and unlike a lot of guys in his situation, he didn’t think he had all the answers,” Ambrose said. “He wanted the answers. … It doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s going to the combine.”