BOGACZYK: Herd’s Bee a Small-Town Guy Playing Big
The Word on the Herd-Nov. 4, 2015
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – It would figure that Ryan Bee would be big in Jeromesville, Ohio. After all, it’s his hometown, and he’s a starter on a major college football team – and the village in Ashland County has a population of about 560 … give or take a man or a dog or a parakeet or two.
However, Bee is just as big other places, and not only because he stands 6 feet 7. And the defensive end has become imposing on Marshall’s tough defense for plenty of reason.
“He brings a different dimension to our pass rush,” Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said.
Since Bee has moved into the defensive front rotation – the redshirt sophomore figures to make his fifth straight start for the Herd (8-1, 5-0) on Saturday at Middle Tennessee – he has produced plenty of issues for opposing quarterbacks. It’s come after he didn’t play a defensive snap in Marshall’s first two games this season, against Purdue and Ohio.
“I didn’t expect it at all really,” said Bee, who was No. 3 on the depth chart at end when the season began. “Going into camp in August, I was just trying to earn some playing time. I didn’t expect to be starting now.”
Bee played 17 snaps in mop-up time during a rout of Norfolk State in Week 3. Then, in his “homecoming” of sorts at Kent State – Jeromesville is 64 miles from the KSU campus – Bee opened eyes as the Herd survived in double overtime.
“We thought Bee would be a good player, but there’s no way we thought he’d rise to this point this soon,” Holliday said. “What he did … He went into that Kent State game and played 13 plays and had like 13 production points, and from then on we felt like we needed to get him into the game.”
Bee replaced senior Armonze Daniel in the starting lineup in a win over Southern Miss, playing 77 snaps. He’s gotten 56, 50 and 49 in the games since … and much more.
He’s second on the team to “Fox” rush end Gary Thompson in sacks (3) and quarterback hurries (11). He’s also recovered two fumbles, blocked a Southern Miss field goal attempt. His 41 tackles include 5.5 for losses.
He brings height and length to go with instincts, Holliday said.
“With his size, his length, it’s hard for a quarterback when Ryan gets his hands up in the air,” the Herd coach said. ‘Balls get batted down and such, and it’s hard for offensive linemen to get into his pads, too, because his arms are so long.
“He gives us a tremendous pass rush in there and he’s becoming a really good player.”
Bee made an impression in practices and in the win over Norfolk State. His adapting to the role and responsibility is still evolving, he said.
“I’m a lot more comfortable,” Bee said when asked if the “newness” of starting has worn off. “I’m just trying to go to work every week and earn my spot. It’s just become easier for me. I just feel more comfortable.
“In practice, I think I took coaching really well. It always helps to take coaching and keep working really hard. That’s one thing I try to focus on a lot. Listen to the coaches and work hard every day … and it’s paying off.”
Bee is in a Herd defensive line rotation that has employed 11 of late – five ends and six tackles. And he’s come to understand that while he may be playing the same position as Thompson, Daniel, Blake Keller and Joe Massaquoi, he’s a different player.
“I think I try to play it the same as they do,” Bee said. “I think my height just gives me a little more advantage, a little more reach, things like that … Jumping, it’s an advantage to position myself to be able to get my long arms up there and bat down passes. That’s what I’m trying to do.
“The other guys, they’re always telling me they’re jealous of my height and they tell me I do have a bigger advantage, being tall like I am, the arm length and stuff.”
Bee is one of 18 Herd players with a pass breakup. His two have helped the Herd to 59, a number that leads major college football.
“I think our defensive line has really stepped up as far as affecting the pass game,” Bee said. “We’re rushing four men as one and getting more hits and pressures on the quarterback.
“And when we get those hits on the quarterback, he takes his eyes off the receiver and puts it more on our pass rush – and that helps the defensive backs out in their coverage.”
That’s one reason the Herd leads the nation in pass efficiency defense and also No. 1 in opponent yards per attempt (4.8 yards).”
Bee, who starred in basketball as well as Hillsdale high School, only had offers from Marshall and Washington. He committed to the Herd in July before his senior year. He admitted that coming from a small school and community – he was an All-Ohio first team selection, albeit in Division VI – had him wondering whether he had the stuff to play on the FBS level.
“Like I said earlier, hard work pays off,” Bee said. “Coming from a small school, there aren’t a lot of people who are my height and stuff like that – well, there aren’t that many people there, period – but hard work pays off.”
So, is his performance really playing big in Jeromesville, home of one traffic light?
“Yeah,” Bee said, grinning. “I always get texts from people back home; they’re all excited for me. So, it’s going good.”
Holliday concurred with those hometown plaudits.
“What happens is when some guys get an opportunity to make plays, they do, and he did,” Holliday said. “Ryan is just a playmaker. And if you can help our football team win, you’re going to play.”