Senior Ryan Belk officially announced his commitment to Yale University in the beginning of August for the fall football season in 2020. His journey in football began long before high school though, as he played flag football in Coral Springs when he was 9-years-old. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School football was his first experience playing tackle, and since his freshman year, Belk has played for the Eagles as both a tight end and defensive end.
“I wanted to play a sport in high school and decided on football because my best friend at the time was also playing. I thought it would be fun, and I would meet lots of people,” Belk said.
Although he received offers from Florida Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Lehigh University, and Brown University, Belk decided that Yale was the school for him after considering numerous factors that go into a college commitment, such as location and education.
“After visiting, I found that I really liked the coaches and the area that the campus is in,” Belk said. “While the dream would be to go into the NFL, the great thing about Yale is that it sets you up academically for a career outside of football if necessary.”
One unique thing about Yale football is its historic rivalry against Harvard Crimson in an annual matchup that fans have regarded as “The Game” since 1875. It’s the last game of each team’s season and with only 8 ties over the years, Yale leads the series 67-60.
“I obviously want to play as quickly as I can, but you never know as an incoming freshman,” Belk said. “It would definitely be a cool experience to be apart of ‘The Game.’ It’s the biggest game of the season, and the stadium is always packed at 60,000 people.”
The recruitment process for Yale began after Belk attended the Eli Football Camp, where he was able to show off his talents in front of Yale coaches.
“Yale reached out to me on Twitter saying that I should go to the camp. At the time I already had offers from other schools, but after playing well in front of the Yale coaches, they gave me an offer,” Belk said. “Coach Short helped me gain exposure and make my decision.”
Short was also a great help throughout the entire recruitment process.
“Belk’s acceptance is a testament to the work he’s put in, his great test scores, and everything he did to set himself up for a great education,” Short said.
The reactions from his parents were also ones of pride and elation when Belk came to the conclusion that Yale is his future home.
“Ryan has always had the ability to balance the important aspects of his life extremely well. His steady dedication to his family, friends, academics and football makes me incredibly proud of him,” his mother, Colleen Boyle, said. “Yale University recognizing the work Ryan has put into being both a top student and a top athlete is exciting and very humbling. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
As a future Bulldog, Belk is grateful to accept the opportunity to play at an esteemed university and thankful for his family, team and coaches that have supported him throughout his high school career.
“My favorite thing is just competing with my brothers and the friendships I’ve made,” Belk said. “We’re all a family, and we will always have each other’s backs.”
This story was originally published in the October 2019 Eagle Eye Print Edition.