Ryan Winterswyk
No. 86     
Tight end
Personal information
Date of birth: February 10, 1987
Place of birth: La Habra, California
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Weight: 269 lb (122 kg)
Career information
College: Boise State
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* Atlanta Falcons ( 2011)*
*Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
*All-WAC, 2008, 2009, 2010

Ryan Winterswyk (born February 10, 1987) is a former American football tight end. He was signed by the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He played college football at Boise State. Despite beginning his college football careers as a walk on, he was selected as a first-team All-WAC player three consecutive years and was selected as the Most Valuable Defensive Player for the 2008 and 2009 Boise State teams that were undefeated in the regular season.

Boise StateEdit

From walk on to All-Decade TeamEdit

Winterswyk attended high school in La Habra, California. Despite having 150 tackles as a senior at La Habra High School, Winterswyk "got little love from recruiters."[1] He considered playing in junior college when the secondary coach from Boise State University suggested he enroll there, but as a walk on with no scholarship.[1] He followed that suggestion and enrolled at Boise State in 2007. He was a walk on at the safety position in January 2007. He was a four-year starter on defense for the Boise State Broncos football team from 2007 to 2010. He was selected as a first-team All-WAC player three consecutive years (2008, 2009, and 2010) and was a key defensive player for Boise State teams that compiled an overall record of 38–2 from 2008 to 2010, including an undefeated 14–0 record in 2009. He was a defensive starter in 43 games for Boise State from 2007 to 2010.[2][3][4][5][6] Despite his original walk-on status, Winterswyk is acknowledged as "one of the best defensive ends in school history."[7]

2007 seasonEdit

As a red-shirt freshman in 2007, he led the team with nine tackles for loss and was selected as an honorable mention Freshman All-American by The Sporting News.[2][8][9][10]

2008 seasonEdit

As a sophomore in 2008, he was selected as a first-team All-WAC player and was named the Co-Most Valuable Defensive Player on a Boise State team that compiled a 12-0 record in the regular season and was ranked third in the country in scoring defense (allowing only 12.6 points per game).[2][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

2009 seasonEdit

As a junior in 2009, Winterswyk was placed on both the Lott and Lombardi Award watch lists.[19][20] He received his second consecutive first-team All-WAC honor and was named the Most Valuable Defensive Player on a Boise State team that compiled a perfect 14-0 record.[2][21][22] In January 2011, he was named to the WAC All-Decade Team for the 2000s.[23]

Cover of Sports IllustratedEdit

After its 14-0 finish in 2009, Sports Illustrated picked Boise State as a contender for the national championship. In the August 2010 issue announcing its pre-season picks, a photograph of Winterswyk and two other players appeared on the magazine's cover.[24][25][26] In its feature story on the rise of Boise State, Sports Illustrated devoted four paragraphs to Winterswyk. The article noted:

Winterswyk has gone from walk-on to four-year starter. His 19 career sacks include a clutch fourth-quarter takedown of Dalton in the Fiesta Bowl. Once a clueless freshman who struggled to master a three-point stance, he's now the star of a defense returning 10 starters. His rapid ascent embodies the Boise State program, which in 15 seasons has risen from I-AA to serial BCS buster.[1]
The Orange County Register took note of Winterswyk's fame: "Ryan Winterswyk, a 2005 La Habra High School grad, graces the cover of the Aug. 16 Sports Illustrated, and is also featured in an article on the inside pages."[27] In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Winterswyk credited the players who laid the foundation for Boise State's development and noted his desire to meet expectations: "You don't want to be on the cover of SI and then go blow it all."[28] In an on-line edition in October 2010, again published a photograph of Winterswyk with the caption: "Ryan Winterswyk and Boise State rank No. 1 nationally in total defense, rushing defense and pass-efficiency defense."[29]

2010 seasonEdit

As a senior in 2010, Winterswyk was slowed early in the season by a knee injury that required him to undergo surgery.[30][31] However, he remained such a dominant defensive player that opposing coaches regularly assigned two players to block him.[3][32] He started all 12 games at defensive end for Boise State and received his third consecutive first-team All-WAC honor. Winterswyk was also a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, given to outstanding college football players who began their careers as a walk-on.[33] He was also invited to play in the annual East-West Shrine Game in January 2011 in Orlando, Florida.[34]

Professional careerEdit

Atlanta FalconsEdit

Winterswyk was signed by the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent following the 2011 NFL Draft on July 27, 2011.[35] The Falcons converted him to tight end after playing defensive end at Boise State.[36] He was released during final cuts on September 3, 2011. He spent the final five weeks of the season on the team's practice squad before being re-signed to the active roster following the season. He announced his retirement from the NFL on April 30, 2012.[37]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Austin Murphy (August 16, 2010). "Offense Takes A Hit: From Austin to Boise to Columbus To Tuscaloosa, Defense Now Rules the Game". Sports Illustrated.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Ryan Winterswyk Bio". Boise State University.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chadd Cripe (December 20, 2010). "Boise State lineman Ryan Winterswyk reflects on season, career". Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah).
  4. D. Orlando Ledbetter (August 8, 2011). "MEET THE ROOKIES: TE Ryan Winterswyk". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  5. "Boise State lineman reflects on season, career". Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT). December 21, 2010.
  6. "Top Boise State defender finishes career vs. Utah at MAACO Bowl". Idaho State Journal (Pocatello, ID). December 21, 2010.
  7. Wyatt Martin (February 17, 2011). "Former BSU defensive end chases dreams at NFL Combine". The Arbiter.
  8. "Winterswyk among top spring performers". The Idaho Statesman News. April 13, 2008.
  9. "Winterswyk, Gingg, Acrey key to Boise State's defense". The Idaho Statesman News. August 24, 2008.
  10. "Young defensive lineman making his mark early: Redshirt freshman Ryan Winterswyk led Boise State in tackles against Weber State". The Idaho Statesman. September 6, 2007.
  11. "Winterswyk lands spot on Lombardi Award watch list". The Idaho Statesman News. March 3, 2009.
  12. "Winterswyk coming on strong". The Idaho Statesman. October 30, 2008.
  13. "Winterswyk makes some adjustments". Idaho Press-Tribune. August 8, 2009.
  14. Chadd Cripe (August 8, 2009). "Winterswyk finds room to improve; Huff likes O-line's commitment". The Idaho Statesman.
  15. "Winterswyk, Gingg, Acrey key to Boise State's defense". The Idaho Statesman (Boise, ID). August 24, 2008.
  16. "A star safety in high school, Winterswyk grows into standout defensive lineman at BSU". The Idaho Statesman. January 1, 2009.
  17. "Who is Boise State's defensive MVP?". The Idaho Statesman. October 17, 2008.
  18. Chadd Cripe (December 6, 2009). "Moore, Winterswyk named Broncos' MVPs". The Idaho Statesman.
  19. "Winterswyk on Lott watch list". Idaho Press-Tribune. April 11, 2009.
  20. "Winterswyk lands spot on Lombardi Award watch list". The Idaho Statesman. March 3, 2009.
  21. "Entrenched: Winterswyk, Winn lead experienced defensive front for BSU". Times-News. August 17, 2010.
  22. "The ends of Boise State football, Bronco quartet of DEs lead by All-WAC selection Winterswyk". The News-Times (Twin Falls, Idaho). August 11, 2009.
  23. "A Decade of Dominance: Boise State's All-Decade team from the WAC years Part IV". Boise Examiner (ID). January 29, 2011.
  24. "Former La Habra player makes cover of Sports Illustrated". The Orange County Register. August 10, 2010.
  25. "La Habra graduate makes Sports Illustrated cover". Star-Progress (Brea-La Habra, CA). September 2, 2010.
  26. "Cover of Sports Illustrated featuring Winterswyk". Sports Illustrated. August 16, 2010.
  27. "La Habra grad makes Sports Illustrated". August 31, 2010.
  28. Chris Dufresne (September 2, 2010). "How Boise State adds up to No. 1 in the nation". Los Angeles Times.
  29. Stewart Mandell. "In a season of chaos, it's time to put our trust in the steady hand".
  30. "Winterswyk sprained MCL, partially tore meniscus". The Idaho Press-Tribune. September 14, 2010.
  31. "Winterswyk battling back after recent knee surgery". The Idaho Press-Tribune. September 15, 2010.
  32. "Boise State defensive end Winterswyk nears end of stellar career". The Idaho Statesman. December 19, 2010.
  33. "Winterswyk named finalist for Burlsworth Trophy". The Idaho Statesman. December 3, 2010.
  34. More non-AQ players to Shrine game
  35. "Ex-La Habra player signs with NFL Atlanta Falcons". The Orange County Register. July 26, 2011.
  36. Ledbetter, D. Orlando (July 26, 2011). "Tech's Cox, UGA's Tripp among 22 rookie FAs". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  37. "Former Boise State player Winterswyk retires from NFL". Idaho Statesman. May 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-28.

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