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Southlake Style

Enter Ryan Agnew

Sep 30, 2013 08:57AM ● By Mike

Ryan Agnew steps out of the shadows as the next in a great line of Southlake QBs. photo courtesy of Bludoor Studios.

The sun was high above the horseshoe grounds of Ford Stadium on a cool Saturday afternoon in December. SMU’s home turf is a familiar venue to Dragon faithful due to years of historic preseason and postseason showdowns. On this particular day, the intensity was high as the Dragons squared off against a then-undefeated and highly ranked DeSoto Eagles team (13-0) in the 5A Division 1 regional finals.

As star quarterback Kenny Hill manufactured the Dragons’ first offensive drive, he hit a little bump in the road. His helmet popped off after a ferocious hit during a 2nd-down play near midfield. According to UIL rules, a player who loses his helmet must sit out the next play. Enter Ryan Agnew, the little-known 6’1” sophomore who had seen plenty of game action throughout the season as Hill’s backup but never so early and never in a game this important. 

“When I saw the helmet come off, I really didn’t think too much of it,” Agnew says. “I just went in as I was coached to do.”  This statement is certainly a testament to the poise of this young man, and the ensuring play a statement to his leadership potential. As Hill stood on the sidelines, Agnew took his first big-time playoff snap as the team faced a long-shot third-down-and-12. The call: an appropriately safe quarterback sweep. The outcome: a zigzagging race up the right sideline as the young quarterback found a hole in the defense and quickly turned up field. He helped set up a first-and-goal inside the DeSoto 5-yard line, which led to the Dragons’ first score of the game.

With such good fortune comes lofty expectations. Great quarterbacks have been a staple of the Carroll program for years — names like Wasson, Daniel, McElroy, Dodge and Hill have brought home trophies — and it’s a prestigious honor and a tremendous responsibility to be a Southlake Carroll signal caller. On the heels of the grueling offseason preparation for 2013, Agnew is beginning to better understand what lies ahead.

“It’s exciting, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility,” he admits. “I’ve seen that just by watching those in front of me handle it the way they did. All I can do is try to handle what’s ahead to the best of my ability.”

The youngest of four football-star brothers, the Agnew Dragon pedigree dates back to the early 2000s. Each of his brothers was an integral member of three separate state championship Dragon teams, and all three received Division I scholarships: Michael with the Air Force; Joseph with Rice University; and Justin with Drake University. Learning while watching his brothers play the safety position, it’s only fitting that Agnew uses his insider information to extend the family legacy by picking apart opposing defensive backfields.

“Watching my older brothers play, all I saw was winning and having a good time doing it,” he says. “It made me look forward to doing the same thing. Watching has helped me appreciate the process and understand how fortunate I am to be a part of this program.” 

With his first season as the starting Dragon quarterback officially underway, Agnew continues to feel a responsibility to improve as a leader and to make strides to improve his game. One thing he aims to improve is throwing deep passes, a necessary skill to master if he’s going to connect with Carroll’s returning group of speedy receivers, including senior Ryan Weigel, who runs a sub 4.4-second 40-yard dash. The receiving core also returns seniors Keaton Duhon and Luke Timian, who with Weigel combined for 1,943 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. In addition to help on the outside, Agnew should have plenty of support from 1,000-yard rusher and returning two-year starter A.J. Ezzard. With so much returning talent and veteran leadership in the offensive huddle, the lanky gunslinger believes it will make a difference as he transitions into his first year as the starter. 

“Stepping into this role should be a lot easier knowing I have so many seniors helping me each step of the way,” he adds.

The importance of the aforementioned seniors and the chemistry they built in the offseason bodes well for the Dragons. Together with Agnew as the quarterback, the Dragons made the most of their offseason by winning the Adidas State 7 on 7 tournament championship in July, something that only former Carroll great and current Texas Longhorns assistant Riley Dodge has done before him. 

“It was a tremendous feeling being able to win the tournament,” Agnew says. “Seven on seven is a lot like our offense, so we were able to spread the ball around to multiple receivers, which definitely helps us in the long run.”

No stranger to hard work, Agnew spent the rest of the offseason mentally preparing and improving his on-field chemistry with his receivers by throwing routes after grueling days at Performance Course, Southlake’s summer conditioning program.

“Once you are actually in the system, you finally see what has to be done over the off-season and on your own time,” Agnew explains. “It takes preparation and buying in to the system so we can perform at the level we want to. By constantly getting reps, we’re able to practice things until we know it’s right.”

Spending the vast majority of his sophomore season as a backup quarterback, Agnew saw more game action than others like him. Finishing out many of the regular season games that were well out of reach, he was able to throw for 575 yards and five touchdowns while completing 41 of 60 passing attempts. Making the most of his now 4.5-second 40-yard speed, he also ran for 496 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Agnew, who has excelled at sports since a young age, grew up playing basketball and baseball. He’s always been able to navigate his away around any field with ease. Like Hill before him, he plans to also play baseball in the spring. As his brother Justin, a member of the Dragon team from 2008–2010, puts it, “From the very beginning we he had a feeling he wasn’t going to play defense, and what’s really something is we always felt he was going to become the best athlete out of all of us.” Only time will tell if his brother’s belief manifests into reality, but as fans, we can only be excited about the possibilities.