by ROBERT WILSON
Jackson Prep senior quarterback Ryan Buchanan has a 30-minute talk every night.
It’s not with Prep coach Ricky Black. It’s not with coach Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss, where Buchanan had decided to play college football. It’s not with friends or teammates. It’s not even with his parents. The most important 30 minutes of Buchanan’s busy day comes before he goes to sleep when he has a conversation with God.
“I started doing that about two years ago when I decided to have a more serious relationship with God,” Buchanan said. “And I’m not going to sleep until I have that long talk. It’s become routine. It is a special time for me where I thank Him for everything He has given me. I’m very blessed where I am today. I never take what I have for granted. Where I am right now in my life is a rare place for a high school student. I’ve been given an opportunity to play college football in the SEC and not many can say that.”
Buchanan is definitely in a class by himself. He is the only true quarterback named this summer to the Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen, which recognizes the top 12 players in Mississippi each year before the season begins. He decided to verbally commit to Ole Miss after receiving many scholarship offers from around the country. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Buchanan also led Prep to an undefeated season, and capped it off with a 34-10 victory over MAIS Class AAA, Division I, three-time defending champion Jackson Academy for the championship.
“The biggest thing about Ryan is that he is very unselfish,” Black said. “If he was on another team he might have better stats, but that wasn’t his focus. He played within the team concept and his goal was winning a state championship. Ryan is a good leader in every organization he is in. He also displays Christian character all the time.”
“Ryan has the perfect demeanor to be a great leader,” Prep athletic director and defensive coordinator Will Crosby said. “What has impressed me the most about him throughout this entire process is his ability to stay humble and grounded. With all the national attention he has been getting, it would very easy for an 18-year-old to get caught up in the hype. But Ryan didn’t do that. He was very focused on the goals he and his teammates wanted to accomplish this year. He has handled this entire recruiting process as well as you could ask anyone to handle it. I think that is a testament to his commitment to his beliefs and having a good family around him.”
Buchanan, the son of Holly and Brooks Buchanan, is a member of First Baptist Church Jackson.
“I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Christ and was baptized when I was eight years old,” Buchanan said. “I made sure that I made a public profession of faith when I was younger, but as I became older I wanted to get more serious about my commitment to Christ. That came for me when I was a junior and I decided to be committed to Christ daily–in everything I do.”
Buchanan’s character and leadership qualities have influenced his teammates. “Ryan is a friend that you can always trust and count on when you need him,” Prep senior lineman John Gathings said. “He has the leadership skills that not many people have and that has translated to the field. Both his teammates and friends respect Ryan. He is very humble and that leads to respect. Ryan is always interested in helping others before himself.”
“I know it is so important to be a leader when you are a senior for the younger players because I remember when I was a sophomore,” Buchanan said. “I had seniors like William Brant, Luke Love and others who took time to talk to me and be great examples to follow. I wanted to do that with those sophomores now that I’m a senior. I’ve tried to be open, not stay to myself, and share things with these younger guys.”
“Ryan is very straightforward,” Prep sophomore wide receiver Parker Caracci said. “If you’re doing something wrong, he will tell you how to fix it and practice it with you until you can’t do it wrong again. Ryan is positive about everything. If something goes wrong, he looks for the positive side of it. Ryan will take time before and after practice to work with you. He always has a good attitude.”
Joel Waters, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mississippi, has been Buchanan’s big brother while he was in high school and has seen him mature. “Ryan is a special young man,” Waters said. “He has so many great qualities that I admire such as humbleness, leadership, compassion, and willingness to help others. Ryan has had a tremendous influence on me, and also his teammates and classmates at Prep. The future is bright for Ryan and I’m looking forward to seeing what great things God has in store for him.”
Robert Wilson is Business Developer for BFAC . He is a freelance writer, author, and the publisher of Victories in Metro Jackson magazine. He is a member of Broadmoor Baptist Church. Contact him at Robert@bfac.com.