Ryan Hunter, the 2012 Buffalo News co-Player of the Year, took the long way to the NFL, but as of Saturday night he's living the dream.
The former Canisius High School and Bowling Green star offensive lineman agreed to a contract as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs. Canisius High School's football Twitter account made the announcement shortly after the NFL Draft concluded Saturday night.
Hunter, who's in town this weekend, confirmed the signing with the News.
"I'm just thankful for the Chiefs taking a chance on me," Hunter said. "I'm just super thankful."
The 6-foot-5, 318-pound Hunter started for three years at Bowling Green. He received playing time at all line positions (that includes tight end) as well as lining up at fullback in college.
Hunter was projected as a late round pick or priority free agent by NFL scouts who watched him perform at Bowling Green's pro day. Though he did not hear his named called during the draft, he and his agent hope they found a team that gives Hunter the best chance at competing for a roster spot. Other potential suitors included Pittsburgh, Detroit and Atlanta, according to Hunter.
"I knew it'd be tough to get drafted," Hunter said. "Now I have the opportunity I think with the team I can make an impact."
Hunter is originally from North Bay, Ont. At age 16, in an attempt to increase his odds of playing college football he decided to enroll in a high school in the United States, picking Canisius.
While Hunter admits his first year with the Crusaders was humbling, it also was an eye-opening experience because he quickly realized the work he needed to put in in order to turn his college football dream into reality.
Hunter is believed to be just one of two true linemen to ever be selected Buffalo News Player of the Year.
He shared the honor in 2012 as a senior with Canisius teammate and running back Qadree Ollison, a junior who amassed 1,876 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Crusaders went unbeaten that season.
"I knew I'd have to leave the city to pursue the dream I wanted to go after," Hunter said. "Only two (Division I) offers out of high school and now I'm with the Kansas City Chiefs. It hasn't even sunk in that I'm on an NFL roster. I'm so happy."
The signing means Hunter's exam week just got a bit busier. Once he's done with his testing Friday, he'll take a flight to K.C. to report to its weekend rookie camp.
Hunter is the fifth Canisius alumnus in the last five years to earn an opportunity at competing for a roster spot with an NFL team. The others are retired Ravens lineman John Urschel, Jimmy Gaines, Derek Brim and Mercer Timmis. Urschel played with Baltimore, the team that drafted him, for three seasons before retiring before 2017 season.
— Canisius HS Football (@CanisiusHSFB) April 28, 2018
So thankful 🙏🏼 #ChiefsKingdom
— Ryan Hunter (@RyanKHunter) April 28, 2018