Ryne Rezac has heard it all.
“Everything,” he confirms.
That’s what you get when you’re pound-for-pound one of the most skilled wide receivers in the state. That’s also what you get when you’re the type of athlete the Desert Vista coaches simply refer to as a “football kid.”
A football kid, in the eyes of Thunder head coach Dan Hinds and his staff, is one who knows his spot each and every play without being told. The player is willing to go continuously all-out, without ever taking a play off, and understands the tactical side of football, even when the ball isn’t coming his way.
And in the case of Rezac, the scrappy 5-foot-8, 160-pound receiver – who plays a lot closer to 6-3, 220 – being a football kid means getting in the face of opposing cornerbacks as a blocker to the point of extremely intense frustration, both verbally and visually.
“That’s the thing. Most receivers think it’s bad,” Rezac said of his role as a blocker on what likely amounts to six or seven – or more – of every 10 plays the DV team runs. “I take it as a challenge. It’s exciting.”
Rezac admits that it doesn’t matter if the call is a run off-tackle, some 30 yards across the other side of the field. He relishes the opportunity to lock up a defender and keep him at bay – and Rezac does it with the best of them. So good, that even Hinds admits it’s laughable how visibly frustrated opposing players get at a player like Rezac rendering them effectively useless on any given play.
“As a receivers coach, it’s fun to coach guys like that here, and we’ve had some good ones come through here,” Hinds said. “We are blocking receivers, and that just goes right down his way of thinking.”
Rezac and Hinds agree that the Desert Vista’s senior’s “football kid” makeup is largely a product of his football pedigree. Rezac’s father, Don, has been a coach at Desert Vista for a decade, and is the Thunder’s offensive coordinator.
“I definitely have picked up on all of that from him,” Ryne said. “And just playing Hamilton and some of those big teams, I just feel sometimes like I have to do more to help out. I definitely learned that from (my father).”
A backup quarterback at one point last season, and a cornerback on defense earlier this year when Desert Vista’s roster was depleted to the point of mandating a majority of players two ways, Rezac’s versatility on offensive, however, goes well beyond his ability to block and go toe-to-toe with defenders.
He’s a pretty good pass catcher, too, after all. Rezac currently leads all Desert Vista receivers with 12 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown – including a 56-yard catch-and-run two weeks ago against juggernaut Chandler Hamilton.
“As a receiver you have to get YAC yards. I definitely pride myself on that,” Rezac said, adding that yards-after-catch as a statistic is probably undervalued. “The one against Hamilton was like a two-yard pass, and it ended up like 57 yards.”
Hinds agreed that Rezac’s ability to maximize his yards after catch – even when he’s wrapped up by a defender – also add to his value. It’s not uncommon to see Rezac catch a five-to-eight yards from the line of scrimmage, get wrapped up, and effectively drag the defender well past the first-down marker.
A transfer as a sophomore from Gilbert High School, Hinds said Rezac has been one of the most important cogs to the Desert Vista offense last year and again this season, his senior campaign.
“He’s a leader by example. He just does everything right,” Hinds said. “He’s an unbelievable kid and a great football player. It’s that extra effort that puts him over the edge.”
Rezac said that as the season hits its mid-way point, he’s still weighing his college football options, but said that it’s not in his DNA to stop playing. It doesn’t matter where, and doesn’t matter the size of the school, he’ll be on a football field again somewhere next fall.
He added that he’s seen a lot of interest from NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) programs and lower-tier NCAA schools.
Despite Rezac’s raw talent, hands as a receiver, and better-than-decent speed, Hinds confirmed that a lack of interest at higher NCAA levels is likely because of his size, which is certainly not typical for top-flight receivers.
“We talk about that all the time. I tell him that’s something he can’t control. But he can control some of these other things,” Hinds said. “You can control your effort and your attitude, and he’s top-notch on both of those.”