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High School

OHS graduate is one of 19 undrafted free agents for Cleveland Browns

Ryan McWethy played for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Photo supplied
Ryan McWethy played for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Photo supplied

Ryan McWethy's tour of the Midwest took a thrilling turn on Sunday.

The 2009 Oregon High School graduate is one of the 19 undrafted free agents the Cleveland Browns have either signed or have designs on signing.

That second stipulation is because a few players like McWethy must first pass their physical before a contract will be signed.

But a footnote like that did little to curb the defensive back's enthusiasm when the phone rang at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

He was surrounded by family and friends at his house, as his agent explaned that he'd be Cleveland-bound in about 2 weeks.

"I was just in shock most of the night," McWethy said in an interview Sunday evening. He will find out more details today. "It's just unreal right now. Ever since I was a kid, my dream was to play in the NFL. It's just a dream come true right now."

McWethy, 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, was an All-Wisconsin Collegiate Athletic Conference defensive back his last two seasons at UW-Platteville and was the first Pioneer in 16 years to earn American Football Coaches Association Division-III All-American honors.

He led the Pioneers with 84 tackles last season, but was already hearing from NFL teams following his junior year. This past March, he cranked the buzz's volume at the University of Wisconsin's Pro Day, running a 4.48 40-yard dash and grading out strong in many other areas.

"His numbers were off the charts, and his profile was that, physically, of a lot of the top safeties in the NFL draft," Oregon football coach John Bothe said. "That comes down to the work he's put in."

Bothe says he recognized McWethy was physically special in high school.

"We thought he had a quite a bit of upside, and we were glad he decided to play college football, because we knew his best days were ahead of him," Bothe said. "He showed some pretty special physical gifts."

McWethy hit the secondary growth spurt Bothe predicted, and put in the hours to maximize his physical potential. But he says his biggest leaps and bounds in college occurred between his ears.

"Playing on one side of the ball let me be more of a student of the game and be more football savvy," McWethy said.

The Browns partially shored up their defensive backfield needs by drafting San Diego State's Leon McFadden in the third round, but McWethy says he still feels like the Browns' depth give him a prime opportunity to come out of that pack of 19 hungry athletes.

That opportunity should help him deal with the fact that his favorite team as a kid, the Chicago Bears, of course, were one of several teams with whom he'd interviewed but didn't get signed.

"The Browns were the best team for me," McWethy said. "It seems like a good fit for me. "Now, it's just like any other thing I've done: I've got to go to Cleveland and be the hardest worker out there, the first one in and the last one out."

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