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Carney has established himself as the top passing threat on the team. He led all receivers with 47 receptions, 786 yards and four touchdowns. He was named to D3Football.com National Team of Week 1 with 12 receptions 242 yards and two touchdowns.
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In his two seasons at JCC, Carney averaged a double-double per game with 12.8 points and 11.7 rebounds. He was ranked in the Top 10 in the country for rebounding, overcoming his size disadvantage at 6-foot-3.
Two-sport athletes might be a rarity at the college level, but Ryan Carney isn’t afraid of the challenge.
At his high school of Olean, Carney was a Big 30 All-Star standout in both football and basketball. However, he made a decision upon graduation that surprised many people.
Instead of going to Buffalo State, Alfred or St. John Fisher, Carney chose to begin his collegiate career at Jamestown Community College to play basketball. In his two seasons there, Carney averaged a double-double per game with 12.8 points and 11.7 rebounds. He was ranked in the Top 10 in the country for rebounding, with his 6-foot-3 frame.
“I didn’t have any scholarship offers coming out of high school, so when I went to JCC, I found out that I was going to get a $2500 refund check every semester,” Carney said. “It was hard to turn down. I get that and I get to play basketball and I knew the area, so it was just kind of an ease my way into college type of thing.”
Following his basketball success at JCC, Carney chose to come to Buffalo State with hopes that he could play both basketball and football, despite not having played on the grid iron in two years.
“One of our former Buffalo State players coaches now at JCC and he brought it to our attention that he was interested in Buffalo State,” said men’s basketball coach Fajri Ansari. “I remembered that he had played in high school and I know that we liked him then, so I went down to see him play this summer in a summer league and we talked.”
“He kind of mentioned about football, but we were primarily talking about basketball, so I just told him we have had players do that, but it’s very challenging.”
When Carney showed up to training camp, the odds were against him. The Bengals had a crowded, talented group of wide receivers with Mike Doherty and Caesarae Lewis already leading the depth chart.
Three days before the regular season started, Doherty suffered a season-ending injury in practice. It was Carney who was called upon to replace him. He responded with a performance that earned him a spot on the D3Football.com National Team of the Week with 12 receptions 242 yards and two touchdowns.
“It was pretty crazy because at first I was complaining to my mom that I didn’t think they were giving me a shot,” Carney said. “Then that happens. It kind of sucked the way it happened because Doherty got hurt and I don’t want anybody to get hurt.”
“It was almost a blessing at the same time and then I just took advantage of my opportunity and now I’m here.”
Following a disappointing loss to Brockport, the Bengals found themselves up against the reigning three-time national champion UW-Whitewater, which was on a 46-game winning streak, the longest in the nation at the time.
Down 6-0 with 1:35 left in the game, quarterback Casey Kacz drove the team 80 yards down the field to get to their opponents 10-yard line with 15 seconds left. Following two incomplete passes, Kacz found Carney in the end zone for the game-winning score with three seconds remaining on the game clock.
“We knew what kind of talent he possessed in terms of being an athlete and what we knew of his high school experience,” wide receivers coach Eugene Lewis said. “At the same time, I can honestly say that while we were excited about his ability, I don’t think anybody expected him to step in right away and have the success that he’s had. I think that’s a tremendous attribute to him in terms of stepping up and being a good player.”
Now, Carney has established himself as the top passing threat on the team. He led the team in catches and receiving yards this season, finishing with 47 receptions, 786 yards and four touchdowns.
As basketball season draws near, Carney will be shifting his focus back to the court and look to get back into basketball shape.
“Basketball shape is constant short sprints versus football, where you sprint and you get a couple of seconds off,” Carney said. “As much as I’m in shape right now, I’m not in basketball shape right now. I’m going to be using new muscles, so I’ve got to make sure I stretch because I don’t want to get hurt.”
The basketball team has currently been practicing without Carney since he’s had football, but he’ll join them after finding out whether the football team will get an ECAC Bowl bid or not.
He’ll likely miss the basketball team’s scrimmage against Division II Eckerd on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Sports Arena. He should be ready for the season-opener on Nov. 20 at Hobart, though.
“He’s going to have to work his way in,” Ansari said. “We miss him already and we plan on using him within our rotation because we have different lineups. We’ve got a couple of tall players, but we may want to go quicker and smaller.”
“I’ve got an idea of what he can do, but now we’ve got to wait and see how he comes together with the rest of the players and how he will mesh.”