Ryans attended Jess Lanier High School in Bessemer, where he was coached by Willie T. Ford. As an NFL player, Ryans and Texans teammate and Bessemer native Earl Cochran, Jr purchased more than 400 turkeys and gave them away at Bessemer City Hall during Thanksgiving 2008.
Ryans played outside linebacker at the University of Alabama. Ryans started out his career by earning a role on special teams and back up linebacker in his first season. By making great improvements every year in his college career, DeMeco went on to become the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year for his performance in 2005. Later on, Ryans attributed much of his college success to his defensive coordinator at Alabama, Joe Kines. He was named the 2006 Cotton Bowl defensive MVP in their 13-10 win over Texas Tech. DeMeco also received the Lott Trophy for his combination of athletic excellence and off-the-field achievements.
2006 NFL Draft
Ryans was selected with the first pick of the 2nd round (33rd overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Texans.
Ryans began his NFL career in 2006 with the Houston Texans. Though he had been an outside linebacker in college, he earned the starting middle linebacker position due to his excellent performance in the preseason. In his first game he recorded a league-high 12 solo tackles. Ryans had an overwhelming impact as a rookie linebacker for the Texans, leading the team in tackles in the first half of the 2006 season. Many Texans fans have called him “D-Wreck” for his toughness and hard hits; another popular nickname is D-ROY, intended to promote Ryans for the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
On January 3, 2007, Ryans was awarded the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award after leading the league with 155 total tackles, 31 more tackles than the next rookie (Detroit Lions linebacker Ernie Sims). He received 36 of 50 votes by a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters. Chicago Bears defensive end Mark Anderson, who was Ryan's teammate at Alabama, finished second with five votes. On December 18, 2007 Ryans was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time. Ryans wore the Texans' defensive transmitter to relay plays from the sideline into the huddle. This meant he was an every-down player. On March 30, 2010, Ryans signed a 6-year $48 million extension, including $21.75 million guaranteed.
On March 20, 2012, after Brian Cushing replaced Ryans as starting middle linebacker, Ryans was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a 2012 fourth-round draft pick and a swap of third-round picks between the two teams. Ryans was immediately inserted as the team's starting middle linebacker. On January 4, 2014 he had 10 tackles and his first career playoff interception in his first career playoff games with the Eagles. On November 3, 2014, Ryans was placed on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles tendon during a game against his former team, the Houston Texans.
Awards and Honors
- 2007 Pro Bowl Invitee
- 2006 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award
- 2006 NCAA Top Eight Award
- 2005 All-American
- 2005 SEC Defensive Player of the year
- 2005 First Team All-SEC
- 2005 Bednarik Trophy Semifinalist
- 2005 Butkus Trophy Finalist
- 2005 Draddy Award Finalist
- 2005 Nagurski Award Finalist
- 2005 Lombardi Award Semifinalist
- DeMeco Ryans. (2014, November 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:16, January 26, 2015
- Manfull, Megan (May 5, 2008) "Texans LB Ryans to receive signals by helmet." Houston Chronicle
- Debro, Anita (November 25, 2008) "Bessemer's favorite NFL sons return to distribute free turkeys." The Birmingham News
- Bowen, Les (May 24, 2012) "Linebacker DeMeco Ryans mans the middle for the Eagles." Philadelphia Daily News
- Inabinett, Mark (November 2, 2014) "DeMeco Ryans suffers season-ending ankle injury, reports say." The Birmingham News