BOISE, Idaho - Boise State University defensive end Ryan Winterswyk is among a group of players nominated for the inaugural Burlsworth Trophy, which recognizes college football's most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.
The award is in honor of Brandon Burlsworth, a former University of Arkansas walk-on and All-American offensive lineman. Finalists will be named on December 1 (Wednesday) with the winner announced on December 15 (Wednesday). A banquet will be held in honor of the winner on February 7, 2011 (Monday) in Springdale, Arkansas.
A senior from La Habra, California, Winterswyk walked on the Bronco team in January of 2006 after graduating from La Habra High School in May of 2005. Winterswyk had a knee injury his senior season and did not receive a scholarship offers from any Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams. Following a conversation between Winterswyk's high school coaches and the Boise State coaching staff, he was invited to walk-on the team.
After playing safety during his high school career, the Bronco coaches moved him to linebacker and eventually to defensive end. He red-shirted the 2006 season before moving into the starting lineup his freshman season of 2007. Winterswyk had an immediate impact to the team finishing his first season with 43 tackles, a team-best nine tackles for loss and 5.5 quarterback sacks to earn honorable mention freshman All-America honors from the Sporting News.
He followed up his rookie year with outstanding seasons as a sophomore and junior earning first team All-Western Athletic Conference honors each year. Winterswyk led the team in tackles for loss and quarterback sacks both seasons. As a sophomore he made 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, while upping his season numbers as a junior with 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
An early season injury slowed the start of this senior season, but Winterswyk has made six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks through the first 10 games.
Winterswyk received his bachelor's degree in business management from Boise State in May of 2010. He is currently enrolled in graduate school taking communication classes to enhance his undergraduate degree.