By Brian Reed-Baiotto
Ryan McCulloch made history on Saturday afternoon.
The Rio Hondo Prep senior officially committed to play football for the University of California, Berkeley.
McCulloch became the first in school history to earn a Power-5 Conference (ACC, Big-10, Big-12, Pac-12 & SEC) scholarship.
What made this accomplishment so satisfying for both the school and the Rio Hondo Prep football program is that Ryan McCulloch is a young man that anyone would be proud to call their own.
He’s a great athlete, but far more important, McCulloch is an even better person.
Thanks to some great parenting by Anita and Jerry McCulloch, their son has his priorities in order, which includes his diligence in the classroom and the way he treats people.
There were only a handful of power-5 football scholarships doled out in the SGV area, and for one to come from a school with 125 students is even more remarkable.
McCulloch had narrowed down his choices to Washington State, San Diego State, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Rice, Boise State and the University of Colorado.
He also received interest from Princeton, Penn, Fresno State, Oregon State and Utah.
When push came to shove, McCulloch said in a Thursday evening interview in the RHP weight room that Cal’s academic pedigree was something he just couldn’t turn down.
McCulloch did much of his damage on the defensive side of the ball in 2021.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker led the Kares with 76 tackles, which was 22 more than his next closest teammate (Calvin Johnson).
Of the 76, 22 went for negative yardage, and he finished with 13 sacks.
At fullback, McCulloch was second to Jonathan Guerrero in rushing yards.
He gained 408 yards on 67 carries and scored six TD’s.
McCulloch had 103 less carries than Jonathan Guerrero, who gained 1,703 yards and tallied 27 TD’s.
McCulloch also caught seven passes for 192 yards, which included three receiving touchdowns.
He’s also maintained a GPA north of the 3.5 mark while attending Rio Hondo Prep.
McCulloch might be a teenager, but he’s as old-school as it gets.
While many football players his age like to showboat, talk trash and go on about themselves, McCulloch is a kid that lets his play do his talking.
He’s not the type of player to disrespect an opponent or the game of football with outlandish behavior.
And much of that is due to the fact that he wasn’t raised that way, but McCulloch is also mindful that he represents a program and school that prides itself in doing things the right way.
McCulloch is also an outstanding baseball player.
In 2022, amongst players from the 30-plus programs that 210 Prep Sports covers, he was tied for third (with Marshall Fundamental’s Nick Chew) in average (.462), sixth in hits (31), first in home runs (7) and first in RBIs (46).
McCulloch had 17 more than Ayala’s Ethan Nunez, who was second with 29 RBIs.
During his three-year run at RHP, the Kares football program has an overall record of 23-3.
Over that same stretch, only Glendora (26) and Ayala (25) have more wins than RHP.
And Rio Hondo Prep’s 88.4 winning percentage (2019-2021) trails just Ayala (89.2).
McCulloch hopes to start a trend in which potential D-1 caliber athletes come to RHP.
He’s certainly proof that playing for Mark Carson and the Kares can serve as a launching pad.
Directly below the ‘quotable’ section are video interviews with RHP coach Mark Carson, former Kares running back Jonathan Guerrero and Ryan McCulloch.
Lastly, I asked McCulloch to touch on the following topics: How have you grown as a football player over the last four years, how did playing at RHP help prepare him for a college career, and what impact his parents have had in his life.
Said Ryan McCulloch: “I’ve seen myself grow as a player physically and mentally over the last couple of years. Physically the cause of my growth is from a lot of time and consistency in the weight room and training. Mentally, I have grown stronger because of my self-discipline. RHP has been great and it’s helped me the most because of the people I have met. My teammates that I’ve had, especially last year, were the main cause of my growth and change of mindset. And I couldn’t be more thankful for my coaches and all they do for me. My parents have played tremendous roles in my life by the example they have set and the way they support me through everything. The thing I most appreciate about my mom is her loving nature and the things she does for me, whether it’s making me endless meals or doing my laundry when I need it. My dad has constantly been there for me and the thing I’m grateful for most about him is making sure I keep my head on straight and control my emotions. I ended up choosing Cal because of the opportunities I have ahead of me. Cal is the best place for my future in academics and athletics. I couldn’t pass up the golden opportunity they gave me.”
RHP coach, Mark Carson: “Ryan started making play after play on our scout defense as a freshman back in 2019, and that was against a really good offense and a team that went undefeated in the regular season. As a staff, he made it impossible for us to keep him off the field, and by midseason, he was starting on our d-line. We knew then that he had the potential to be special. His role on the team has grown each season, and the scary thing is he keeps getting better. He has God-given talent of course, but his work ethic on the field and in training is exceptional. The COVID-19 lockdown took most of the 2020 season, but Ryan used that time to get stronger and as a program, we used that time for a lot of individual speed and technique work. Starting his sophomore year, he’s been a two-way starter for us. He is a mainstay on the edge on D, and at fullback on offense. I can’t say enough about Ryan’s character. He’s a man of faith and his parents have done an outstanding job raising him. His work ethic is at the level of a collegiate or pro athlete. He’s a great student, he’s humble, and he’s a great friend and teammate. We’ve appreciated his loyalty to our school and program. He started at our elementary school Pearl Prep in fourth grade. He’s been approached multiple times about transferring and has remained loyal. It was interesting that this is one of the things the college coaches recruiting him liked best about him. With all the transfer craziness in high school football, they like the fact that Ryan has stayed put.”
Former RHP captain, Jonathan Guerrero: “Ryan is a spectacular player and a great teammate. I mean, I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of the ball trying to tackle him when he was running. He was just crazy and every time I ran the ball, I could count on him to make his block so I could get yards. And it seemed like every time he touched someone, they would just hit the ground hard. I watched film and I see Ryan laying someone out and I feel bad for those guys. And it’s not just football where he’s an athlete, he’s a three-sport athlete and is just an athletic freak. He’s a hard worker, competitive and humble. He wakes up in the morning before school to train and does his best for every workout he does. He’s a great friend who would pick me up to train because I couldn’t drive yet and pay for some of my food and is a funny guy and a great person to talk to. He works hard in class and is a great student. It’s incredible how athletic he is for his size. Lastly, Ryan has a lot of dedication to get better every day and that’s what will make him different from everyone. I wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Former RHP captain, Gio Ortega: “Ryan is the teammate everyone wants to have. He is one of the hardest working guys in everything he does and always strives to do his best whether it’s on the field, in the classroom, or in any other aspect in life. What I most admire about Ryan is how humble he is, you will never catch him talking about his accomplishments no matter how big. He is a quiet killer and a leader by example which are two attributes that make him a great teammate and a great person. Anyone lucky enough to work with Ryan or have a conversation with him can tell you just how genuine and kind he is. I look forward to seeing everything my guy will accomplish in the future and with his “dawg” lifestyle the sky is the limit.”
2022 Rio Hondo Prep Schedule:
8/26: El Monte at RHP
9/1: Linfield Christian at RHP
9/9: RHP at Boron
9/16: RHP at Poly
9/22: RHP at Savanna
9/30: Glendale at RHP
10/14: RHP at Viewpoint
10/21: Brentwood at RHP
10/28: RHP at Campbell Hall
Rio Hondo Prep Records w/McCulloch:
Ryan McCulloch’s Stats:
Offense: 67 rushes for 408 yards & six TD’s
Defense: 76 tackles, 13 sacks
2020: Only a three-game season
Offense: 7 for 37, 2 TDs
Defense: 31 tackles, 6.5 for loss, & 0.5 sacks
Most Wins, 2019-2021
Rio Hondo Prep (23-3)
San Dimas (23-7)
St. Francis (22-8)
Chino Hills (15-16)
La Canada (14-10)
Alta Loma (11-15)
Charter Oak (10-14)
La Salle (10-15)
West Covina (8-18)
Los Osos (6-17)
South Hills (5-18)
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