CHAMPAIGN — Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer Pat Ryan has been named the Illinois football team's director of Illinois high school relations, head coach Bret Bielema has announced. Ryan joins the Illini following a 30-year head coaching career at Metamora High School.
One of the most decorated coaches in Illinois high school football history, Ryan led Metamora to seven state championship games, two state titles (2007, 2009), and a 268-75 (.781) record in 30 seasons.
He has the 14th-most wins in Illinois high school history and the 11th most of any coach at one school. Ryan was inducted to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016.
"I am thrilled to be a part of what Coach Bielema is building at Illinois," Ryan said. "Football has been a big part of my life. The relationships I have made by being involved in this game are priceless. I look forward to enhancing the long-lasting relationships within the state of Illinois and building new ones within the Illini football family."
Ryan has spent most of his life at Metamora High School, first as the team's quarterback prior to his graduation in 1981. His coaching career started as a student assistant at Southeast Missouri State under Peoria native Bob Smith, before he came back to Metamora to be an assistant coach. He was an assistant at Metamora for three seasons before taking over the program for the next 30 years.
"I'm very excited to bring the life lessons of Coach Ryan here to the Illinois football program," Bielema said. "He started as an Illinois high school football player then moved on to be an assistant coach and a head coach at Metamora and has reached the highest level of success in state football history. He has been able to build relationships with high school players, high school coaches, and college programs throughout his entire coaching career. He will be a huge asset for us as we continue to build relationships throughout the state of Illinois and across the country."
Ryan was a six-time Greater Peoria Area Football Coach of the Year, three-time Greater Peoria Area Sports Hall of Fame Male Coach of the Year, and three-time Shrine Game coach. He served as a trustee for the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association for 20 years, was the 1999 President of the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association and was a member of the IHSA Football Advisory Board from 2010-13.
During a 16-year period from 1995-2010, Ryan's teams won 10+ games in 15 of the 16 years. Metamora appeared in seven state championship games, and won both of their state titles during the period, while featuring a style of play built on strong defenses and a physical running attack. Overall, Ryan's teams qualified for the IHSA playoffs in 24 of 30 seasons, had six undefeated regular seasons and won 18 Mid-Illini Conference titles.
Ryan retired from his role as head football coach, department chair for physical education, health and driver's education, and assistant track and field coach at Metamora High School in 2020.
Four football players awarded scholarships
Four Illinois football players were granted scholarships —Christian Bobak, Tailon Leitzsey, Michael Marchese, and Alec McEachern were told they were being put on scholarship at a team meeting Tuesday evening.
Bobak has played in 43 games for the Illini, primarily on special teams and has 22 tackles over his career. He graduated with a degree in finance and is enrolled in the technology management master's program. Bobak is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
Leitzsey walked-on to the team in 2018 as a sophomore. He made his Illinois debut against Northwestern last season. In December he earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology.
Marchese has played in 32 games with three starts at safety and two starts at linebacker for Illinois. He has 44 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Marchese is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and is working towards a degree in economics.
McEachern has played in 25 games, tallying 10 tackles including a career high three at Penn State last season. He is majoring in finance and is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten