Ryan Switzer sat in an upscale diner in Charleston's South Hills and pondered his upcoming appearance in the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
"I just want to go out there are and represent my state well," he said. "Cedric Brown from Martinsburg and I are both playing in it, which I think is cool because we get two guys from West Virginia out there. We just want to go out and show what we can do, and show there's some pretty good football players here in this state."
The All-American Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 4 in suburban Los Angeles. Switzer and Brown will play for the East team, and Switzer will be playing as West Virginia's two-time state player of the year.
The West Virginia Sports Writers Association announced today that Switzer has won the Kennedy Award for the second consecutive year, putting him among the ranks of five other two-time Kennedy winners in the 67-year history of the award.
"I really didn't know. I had no idea, and honestly started to wonder," Switzer said about winning the Kennedy a second time. "With me being hurt, I thought maybe someone else might have won it. I'm kind of speechless."
Danny Williams of DuPont was the first two-time Kennedy winner, claiming the award in 1972-73. Robert Alexander of South Charleston won in 1975-76, Magnolia's Mark Cisar in 1992-93, Nitro's J.R. House in 1996 and 1998 and Martinsburg's Brandon Barrett in 2002-03.
The terms "Kennedy Award" and "adversity" don't often go together in the same sentence. Still, as predictable as his win was, the 2012 season was anything but a victory lap for the future North Carolina Tarheel.
Switzer didn't play for West Virginia's best team in 2012. George Washington had but two other players that were named to the Class AAA All-State team, and neither of them were on the field with him by the time Martinsburg had staked itself to a 35-7 lead at halftime of what became a 63-14 GW loss in the playoff semifinals.
Injuries not just to Switzer but to players like All-State linebacker/fullback Dustin Crouser and Zach Malone - a second-team pick at linebacker and Crouser's backup at fullback - were common to the Patriots as the year progressed.
The losses weren't limited to on-the-field injuries. Freshman lineman Drew Morton lost his life in a car wreck three weeks into the season.
"It was a hard year," Switzer said. "That, with Drew, what do you say? I remember going to the vigil we had for him at the school, and it was the worst feeling I've ever had. I never want to feel like that again.
"I know his sister, but I didn't know him too well yet. But you see him around practice or whatever, and then to not see him, and know that he's never coming back, that was hard for us to deal with."
As for his own injury, Switzer said it actually proved to be helpful.
"I was putting a lot of pressure on myself with the state touchdown record and things like that, and when I had the concussion all that stuff went out the window," he said. "So, when I came back I felt like I could just go out there and enjoy playing the game."
In 11 fewer quarters - almost three complete games - than he played in 2011, his statistics were remarkably similar to those from his first Kennedy-winning season. He ran the ball 206 times for 2,379 yards and 32 touchdowns, caught 20 passes for 253 yards and four scores, intercepted three passes and returned each for touchdowns and finished the year with 240 total points.
In 2011, Switzer had 298 carries for 2,796 yards and 40 TDs, caught 10 passes for 149 yards and two scores, intercepted four passes and returned two for touchdowns and scored 270 total points.
His per game average rushing yardage went from 199.7 in 2011 to 198.3 in 2012, although in the first game of the season he carried the ball just once before being injured. His total yards per game average increased from 210.4 in 2011 to 219.3 in 2012.
Switzer appeared on all but one of 33 ballots cast for the award in statewide voting. He claimed all but nine of the first-place votes. Martinsburg senior quarterback Justin Clinton finished second, appearing on 21 ballots and receiving 18 second-place votes.
Wayne senior running back Brandon Spurlock was third, and Cabell Midland senior running back David Gaydosz was fourth. Each player received three points for a first-place vote, two for a second-place vote and one for a third-place vote.
No player outside the top four vote-getters earned more than 20 total points.
Switzer finished with 86 points, and Clinton finished with 46.