September Scholar-Athlete: Ryan Erxleben

Sept. 1, 2013

By Kayla Curry
Special to TexasTech.com

Senior Texas Tech punter, Ryan Erxleben, did not have the easiest beginning to his career as a student-athlete, but the lessons he learned during his college career has inspired him to positively influence others.

Making the transition from a high school student-athlete to a college student-athlete is something many students struggle with, and Erxleben was no exception. Erxleben was the typical high school-athlete. He was named all-state as a punter and defensive end, while also being named team captain his senior year at Lake Travis high school in Austin, Texas.

Erxleben admitted that his high school focus was mainly on sports, and he didn't put that same focus on his academics.

"Honestly after high school, I had to learn," Erxleben said. "I didn't take academics that seriously. I came here and my first semester wasn't that great." Erxleben explained that the college experience was overwhelming mainly because he didn't have his priorities where he though they should be.

"You have to have your priorities straight," Erxleben said. "Obviously academics come first. If you don't take care of your academics, you're not going to play." The moment Erxleben found out his eligibility was in danger his freshman year, he decided he had to change his habits.

"I definitely put it into gear," said Erxleben, "and ever since that first semester, I've never made below a 3.0 GPA. I finally put it into perspective that academics is the most important thing."

Erxleben said he realized that the most success would come from walking away from his college career with a degree.

"It's cliché to say," Erxleben said, " but the student comes before the athlete." One major aspect that helped Erxleben enjoy his career as a student was finding the right major.

"I was business my first year," Erxleben said, "and I did some soul searching and I found the Exercise and Sports Science is where my heart's at."

Erxleben graduated with a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Sciences, and is now perusing a master in Interdisciplinary Studies.

He plans to graduate in August of 2014 and would like to become a football coach. Erxleben said he wants to coach because of the positive impact he could have on the athletes.

"I think the position that coaches are put in would be such a great opportunity," Erxleben said. "You're put in a position to coach football and to prove your team, but you can really influence the lives of your athletes in such a positive way."

Erxleben has had the opportunity to observe three different coaches during his college career - Mike Leach, Tommy Tuberville, and now Kilff Kingsbury. He said all three of them were different.

"I've had three coaches since I've been here," Erxleben said. "The culture is definitely different between each one of them."

Although they are so different, Erxleben said he has learned from each one of his college coaches.

"All three of them brought good things to the table," Erxleben said. "I'm glad I've had several changes because I've gotten to learn from each one of them."

Erxleben said his goal would be to join the Texas Tech football coaching staff.

"I love this place," Erxleben said. "Tech is such a great place to be. It's just my kind of place."

Erxleben said he is glad he was able to change his view on academics early because now each of his goals is in reach.

"There are some things that you just go through in life, that just kind of have to wake you up a bit," Erxleben said, "and I guess that's part of my testimony. Looking back, I feel like I woke up. It definitely paid off."




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