Many WVU fans know exactly who UNC standout wide receiver Ryan Switzer is. A majority of them wish the West Virginia native sported old gold and blue on Saturday’s instead of the lighter shade of Carolina blue, but it didn’t quite work out that way.
Though Switzer took his ferocious speed and versatility to North Carolina, the senior still roots for his home state of West Virginia, especially when it comes to the hardwood.
You’d think that as a student athlete of his caliber attending a school that has 46 NCAA Tournament appearances, 18 Final Four’s, and five NCAA Championships, Switzer would consider UNC as the only team worth cheering for.
But that isn’t the case for a ‘Heel who was raised on Country Roads.
“I’m a Tarheel now, but that doesn’t take away the love that I have for the West Virginia basketball program,” Switzer said. “I’ve been a West Virginia basketball fan since I figured out what the sport was. Just like for the football team, most of my younger happiness was dependent on whether or not WVU won or lost.”
It’s easy to see that Switzer is one of Press Virginia’s biggest fans just by following him on social media. On WVU game days, his Mountaineer pride is put on display to his nearly 24,000 Twitter followers (most of which are probably UNC fans).
Switzer may be one of the most successful college football players to come out of the state of West Virginia in quite some time. Through his first three collegiate seasons, he’s accumulated 148 receptions for 1,795 yards while finding the endzone 13 times. Special teams is where Switzer really thrives, though. In three seasons, he’s taken seven punts back for touchdowns with a career long of 86 yards.
It’s also worthy to note that Switzer tends to go off against WVU’s all-time favorite rival, the University of Pittsburgh. In this past season’s matchup, Switzer grabbed five receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown. And, in 2013, Switzer ran back a punt return for a touchdown that ultimately propelled the Tarheels to victory over the Panthers.
The best part is, Switzer may have learned some of his speedy moves from a few of WVU’s greatest athletes, in both football and basketball.
“Rasheed Marshall is my all-time favorite football player,” said Switzer. “He and I have formed a great relationship since I’ve gotten older.” Marshall was a WVU quarterback from 2001-2004, where he earned Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors during his senior season.
“And I’ve never enjoyed watching someone in a WVU basketball uniform more than I did Mike Gansey,” he said. “Some of my favorite memories come from what he and (Kevin) Pittsnogle, (Joe) Herber, Darris Nichols, among others, played and won some unbelievable games.”
Switzer says the thing he misses most about West Virginia is how uncomplicated life was back in his younger days growing up in Charleston. As March approaches, he’s excited to see where both UNC and WVU end up in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m most definitely cheering for both teams,” he said. “I’m hoping the only time they have to see each other is in a national title game.”