Kerrigan Back At Purdue Finishing Degree

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The NFL season is a grueling five month endeavor that begins in a fiery August and ends in a frozen January (or February).  Along the way, players get understandably tired, and use the first few weeks of the offseason to decompress and relax.

Some go home to reacquaint with family and friends, while others fly to remote locations to get away.

And then there is rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who flew back to West Lafayette, Ind. to finish up his undergraduate degree at Purdue.  Classes began on Monday, Jan. 9, a mere eight days after the final pro game of his rookie season.

“I’m taking five classes this semester and then I’ll have a little bit more to go after that,” he told me last week.  “I switched majors late in my career, so that kind of set me back a bit, but I’ll be able to graduate with a few more classes after this semester.”

It’s been 13 months since Kerrigan sat in a Purdue classroom, but a lot has changed for him in that span.  He put his final semester of college on hold to train for the NFL Draft process, improving his stock to a mid-first round prospect.  He played in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., competed in the NFL Combine in nearby Indianapolis, Ind., exhibited at the Purdue Pro Day, and flew to New York for the NFL Draft.

When he finally got to Washington in August, his learning process was just beginning, as he transitioned from a down lineman to the outside linebacker position.  The classroom setting may have changed, but his practical education has been working overtime.

“It’s good to keep the brain going, I guess,” he said casually.  “I just got out of class and took like three or four pages of notes.  At first I thought, ‘Man, I haven’t done this in a while,’ but then I remembered, ‘Oh, yes I have.’  It’s just different from a curriculum standpoint, but it’s similar in importance.”

Finishing his education was never really an option for Kerrigan, it was just a matter of when.  After switching out of math education, he intends to use his sociology degree for health education, something that has become a passion for him.

Now he just has to adjust to hearing about homework instead of snap counts and zone coverage.

“You gotta take a lot of notes–it’s just different in that you’re taking notes on a subject that isn’t you,” he explained.  “It’s definitely a big switch of gears, but education is something that’s always been important to me and my family, so I want to finish.

“Basically, I went to school for three-and-a-half years, and I was taking classes both during the year and the summer,” he continued.  “I feel like if I want to go back and get my degree, I have every incentive to finish.”

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If anything has changed in the year that Kerrigan has been away from college, it’s him.  Gone, is the flowing mane, along with any apprehension about what the future holds.  He’s a sure-fire NFL starter now, even if not many classmates recognize him.

“This is Colts and Bears territory up here, so there are lots of those fans and not many Redskins fans,” he said with a chuckle.  “Plus, there’s 40,000 students here, so I blend right in with them.”

Somehow I doubt Kerrigan blends in, no matter how large the crowd.

In the classroom, Kerrigan has to adjust to the bland teaching style of academia, after spending five months under the tutelage of linebackers coach Lou Spanos.  Spanos, who has since departed to be the defensive coordinator for UCLA, was able to connect with Kerrigan on a humorous level.

“Coach Lou kept things pretty light in the meeting room, whereas this is just straight forward,” he said with a laugh.  “I haven’t actually had any of these professors before, so this is definitely an adjustment going from Coach Lou to these guys.”

Kerrigan is also out to prove that his standards of excellence extend beyond the gridiron.  No “C’s get degrees” approach for this jock.

“You wanna do your best, that’s for sure–you want to get all A’s,” he said.  “But I’m gonna work hard at it, and whatever grade I do get, I’ll know that that’s what I deserved because I worked my hardest at it.”

And after watching him work hard for the last year, I wouldn’t expect any less.

0 thoughts on “Kerrigan Back At Purdue Finishing Degree

  1. Ryan Kerrigan will be the MVP of a Super Bowl…as a Redskin…mark it down. I have never felt so passionatley about a Redskin as I do with Kerrigan. He is extremely humble and extremely talented and I feel like I know him…its crazy.


  2. AMEN! I have to agree with Josh and say he will be a Superbowl MVP with the redskins! I have been thrilled watching this kid perform on and off the field… He has got my vote, I hope him and Orakpo stay with the redskins as long as Fletcher has been playing! And Landry he needs to stay as well! I am really impressed with our defense, now if we can just get a big time play makers at qb and some really good deep passing game going on we will be in there…


  3. @ Josh W. I would LOVE to see Ryan Kerrigan as a Super Bowl MVP. Over the years there have been several Boilermakers play for the Redskins. I can remember rooting for the Redskins back in the day before you hired that IU quarterback. Boiler UP!


  4. You are an inspiration to all athletes and young guys that leave early to play a sport andnever go back and get their degree you, Adam Carriker, Brian Orakpo, Chris Cooley and London Fletcher are my favorite Redskins because you guys are hard working team first players that give 110% all the time and you all make great role models for the youth including my son take care keep up the great work God Bless you and yours and thank you for being a positive role model and please keep that up! I have been a die hard Redskin fan my whole life HTTR!


  5. Ryan Kerrigan = class act!

    The more I read about this guy, the more I like him (and, after his rookie performance, that’s a tough act to follow!)…my wife even says I have a “man-crush” on him, as I’m usually the only middle-aged man you see walking around FedEx wearing his jersey (you mostly see attractive young ladies doning the burgundy #91 at FedEx, but I digress)…LOL

    The one thing I can say about the Allen/Shannahan regime during their first two years together is that they’ve knocked it out of the park with each of their #1 draft picks…hopefully, that trend will continue in the 2012 draft!

    Best of luck to Ryan in his pursuit of furthering his education…


  6. Pingback: The Redskins Blog | Kerrigan Talks Senior Bowl, Off The Field

  7. Boiler Up Ryan! Congrats on a great first NFL year and congrats to sticking to the commitment of finishing your degree. A Purdue education will stick with you forever.


  8. Congratulations on returning to Purdue to finish your education. This decision is another example of the outstanding character that you possess, Ryan. No one can ever take your degree away from you! It will be an accomplishment for which you will forever be proud. It will be nice to see you around Purdue. You are an inspiration to the current players! Good luck with everything!


  9. Pingback: The Redskins Blog | Ryan Kerrigan Proud Of His Native Indiana

  10. Pingback: The Redskins Blog | Kerrigan Lending Expertice To Teammates

  11. Pingback: The Redskins Blog | Thompson Finishing Boise State Degree

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