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Texas A&M Student-Athlete Spotlight: Ryan Tannehill
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By Sarah Grimmer
Big 12 Campus Correspondent

Doctor Ryan Tannehill. Or Texas A&M's starting senior quarterback Ryan Tannehill. To some it may sound like a scenario of what doesn't fit; a game of picking the right credentials for this Big Spring, Texas native.

The titles are, however, interchangeable to him. Having walked the stage last May, Tannehill graduated from A&M with a bachelor's degree in biology.

"I always wanted to be a doctor," Tannehill said. "The idea of being able to help someone was always appealing to me and I want to go on to medical school. I like medicine and helping people get better and I never want to completely give up on that, but if I can continue playing at the next level, that will get put on the backburner."

While Tannehill has aspirations to become a doctor, he also has another passion in his life. Football. It is this career choice that has left his name on everyone's lips. Along with his teammates, Tannehill has effectively revived A&M's football program.

After playing quarterback throughout his high school days and redshirting his freshman year, he became a receiver after fall camp in 2008. Tannehill adjusted to the change easily and went on to tally 844 yards on 55 catches, both A&M freshman records. His athleticism did not go unnoticed as his teammates dubbed him A&M's offensive MVP.

Continuing as a wide receiver in 2009, Tannehill played in all 13 games. He had four catches for a team-high 40 yards and a touchdown in a victory over Baylor, as well as two receptions for 35 yards against Georgia in the Independence Bowl.

"Playing receiver was fun and was way better than standing on the sidelines, but always in the back of my mind I had it that I wanted to be quarterback," Tannehill said. "I never gave up on the goal. It was frustrating at times, not being in the position that you wanted to play, but at the time it was better for the team."

At last during his junior year, Tannehill got the position he had his eyes set on for so long. He won the quarterback job midseason and started the final six games of 2010.

"When I came here, my goal was to be quarterback and I took a long route to get here," he said. "I played receiver for a few years and then started playing quarterback. From day one, I have always thought of myself as a quarterback and wanted to be quarterback so finally being able to reach that and be doing it feels good."

He flourished in his new role completing 152 of 234 passes for 1,638 yards and 13 touchdowns. He surpassed the completion percentage record at A&M by posting a 65.0 completion percentage.

He earned All-Big 12 honorable mention honors at quarterback on the coaches All-Big 12 team, while maintaining a 3.60 GPA in Biology. The accomplishments in the classroom earned him a spot on the ESPN Academic All-District team and the Academic All-Big 12 football team.

"I hope my teammates perceive me as a leader and I hope they like me," Tannehill said. "I like to keep things loose in the locker room. If they truly believe in you and like you as a person, they are going to follow you a lot better on the field."

In the midst of his senior season at A&M, Tannehill has made the preseason list for several national awards including the Davey O'Brien Award, Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, the Manning Award, the Maxwell Award, the Pony Express Award and College Football Performance Awards. He is the only player in the NCAA FBS history with a 400-yard passing game and a 200-yard receiving game.

Even though he has gotten a lot of national attention, Tannehill has managed to stay humble about his accomplishments during his time at A&M.

"There is so much that is God-given ability," he said. "You can't say you work for everything; God gave you a lot of what you have but at the same time you have to be able to work and push to get the most out of it."

Whether it is medical school or the NFL that is in Tannehill's future, he hopes to leave some things behind after he dons the maroon and white for the last time.

"I hope we changed the culture here," Tannehill said. "When I came in, (Mike) Sherman came in after my redshirt year and we went through a couple tough years where we weren't winning games and the culture has really changed since then. There is now a winning attitude and we expect to win. I hope that when this class leaves, we can leave behind that legacy, that we changed the culture here and brought A&M back to a winning tradition. I think we are heading the right direction, we just have to finish the season off."

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