Senior Ryan Baranowsky thought he was going to be a Division I athlete out of high school. He was recruited by and accepted a scholarship offer to play for the Maine Black Bears in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
The Black Bears play in the Colonial Athletic Association, which is arguably one of the toughest conferences in the country for FCS football. The Black Bears were 4-7 in 2010 after being recruited by long-time head coach Jack Cosgrove.
But, while his future with the Bears didn’t go quite as planned, he’s excelled on the home turf of the Lions and is happy to be here.
“I decided to attend the University of Maine originally because it seemed like the right fit for me at the time,” Baranowsky said. “I was offered a scholarship and really enjoyed my official visit. Unfortunately, it did not work out. I redshirted as a freshman and realized Maine was not the right place for me.”
After opting out of Maine, he had to make a decision on where he wanted to continue his education. Baranowsky ultimately chose to attend the College, where he would focus on academics and return to the football field.
“I chose TCNJ for the quality of education and location,” he said. “It was a little closer then Maine. It’s nice not having to fly home for every holiday break. I have no regrets on leaving Maine.”
However, prior to his leave of Maine and his appearance at the College, Baranowsky left his mark at his high school.
The Moorestown, N.J. resident elected not to attend his hometown high school. Instead, he decided to attend Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken, N.J., playing tight end and defensive end for coach Robert Cormier.
As a senior, he was first-team All-Burlington/Olympic League. He was also first-team All-Parochial and second-team All-South Jersey as a defensive end. Bishop Eustace also won a Burlington/Olympic League Championship in his final campaign.
“Playing football for BE (Bishop Eustace) was a great experience for me,” he said. “I developed friendships and memories that will last forever. Rob Cormier was a fantastic coach. I couldn’t have asked for a better high school experience.”
In 2011, he played in 10 games for the College. His first collegiate reception came on a three-yard game against Buffalo State.
The following year, he received a start against Western Connecticut State and played in 10 games. He had six receptions for 52 yards, an average of 8.7 yards per play.
On July 30, 2013, the football program received its new head coach Wayne Dickens. He had the job for just 37 days before his first game, and coached the team to a 5-5 record.
Under Dickens, Baranowsky has excelled while being named All-NJAC First-team as a tight end. He appeared in eight games and was subsequently hurt in two games in which he was unable to play.
He had 17 receptions for 235 yards and a touchdown. He had his best game last year against Morrisville State, where he caught three receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown on Homecoming.
He averaged 13.8 yards per catch and 29.4 yards per game. His longest catch of the season came on a 32-yard play against FDU-Florham in the second game of the season.
This season, he missed the FDU-Florham game and has played in the other two games. In those games, he has nine receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.
“Coach Dickens is a true players coach,” Baranowsky said. “He has this program going in the right direction. It’s amazing how close he has brought this team together in such a short period of time. I feel very comfortable in his system.”
But soon Baranowsky will be trading in football to pursue a career as a financial advisor after he graduates in May.
“I interned with Morgan Stanley for a year and really enjoyed my experience,” he said. “I do not see coaching in my future, but I will stay involved with the program and do anything I can to help this program win.”