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Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Cragun (center) scored his first two Penn touchdowns against Lafayette.

Credit: Sam Holland

People are taking notice of Ryan Cragun. With sixteen catches and 273 reception yards in his first two games as a varsity wide receiver, the sophomore certainly seems to be living up to the hype.

A San Juan Capistrano, Calif. native, Cragun had an impressive high school career before joining Penn football; by graduation, he was a four-year letterwinner and two-time Academy League champion with recognition as the 2017 Offensive MVP. But he has always had a soft spot for the Red and Blue.

“I’ve actually wanted to go to Penn since I was in eighth grade and I visited the school, so I made it my goal throughout high school to do well in school and well enough in football to have a chance to come here,” Cragun said.

This is Cragun’s first season as part of the varsity team, having been part of the scout team freshman year, and his record thus far is something to catch your eye. Receiving for more than 100 yards in his first two games, Cragun is off to a remarkable start to his college varsity career, especially since Penn was only able to have one receiver with over 100 yards in all of its games last year.

As of right now, Cragun would have ranked third in total receiving yardage among Penn receivers last season. But it doesn’t stop there. Cragun had not one, but two touchdowns in the game against Lafayette, helping to secure Penn’s only victory of the season so far.

“[It was r]eally special,” Cragun said. “Obviously, I’ve imagined playing college football since I was a young kid, so actually going out there and getting the chance to play and compete against other really good players has been a lot of fun.”

Even though these stats are laudable for any player, team focus seems characteristic of the sophomore, as he attributes his remarkable beginning to others before his own performance.

“It’s not really me being great. I’ve gotten the ball a lot and the offensive coordinator has done a good job of putting me in position to get open and be successful,” insisted Cragun. “The quarterback has been throwing me the ball and everyone else around me has been doing a great job trying to help.”

There have already been a few comparisons to past Penn legends, including Justin Watson, who held an Ivy League record of 19 100-yard games by the end of his college career in 2018. Cragun is the first Quaker to total over 100 receiving yards in consecutive games since Watson in 2017, however there is one crucial difference. It took Watson 11 varsity appearances to hit the 100-yard mark, and it took Cragun only one.

These legacies and historical achievements aren’t a priority for Cragun, who seems to be concentrating the overall performance of his team and reaching their bottom line.

“Obviously, breaking records is something that I set goals for, and it’d be great if that happens, but honestly, I’m not focused on that at all,” Cragun said. “I have a long career ahead of me. I’m just going to do what I can game by game and see what happens at the end of the day.”

After sustaining an injury, Cragun was unable to play in Penn’s loss to Dartmouth last week, and his absence was felt hard by the hosts. No receiving player broke 45 yards for the Quakers, and none of the receivers turned their yardage into touchdowns. But Cragun is optimistic about his team and fulfilling their goals, and he is more than eager to help however he can to ensure some victories.

“Ideally, my goal is to win as many Ivy League championships as possible. Whatever I can do to help would be great, but at the end of the day, I know that the only thing I truly care about is whether or not we won,” he said.

While it is unclear whether Cragun will play in the game against Sacred Heart this weekend, Penn has itself a new rising talent. That eighth-grade trip to campus might have started the journey of another great Quaker, and we’ll see if Cragun can make a crucial impact on the team’s offensive prospects this season.