In the “Revisiting the Breakout” series, The Daily Pennsylvanian takes a look back at some of the athletes that burst onto the scene for the Quakers in 2019. Due to COVID-19, these breakout players, along with the rest of their teammates, sat on the sidelines in 2020 after the Ivy League canceled fall and winter sports. Now, with the 2021 fall athletics season around the corner, this series looks to check in with these athletes as they get ready to build on their standout 2019 campaigns.
After sitting out his freshman year, Ryan Cragun entered his sophomore season ready to finally make his presence felt at Franklin Field. The senior wideout was able to do exactly that with a breakout season worthy of second team All-Ivy recognition. In nine games, Cragun hauled in 58 passes for 885 yards and three touchdowns. Those totals were good enough to place him third in the Ivy League in receptions and receiving yards per game.
Even though he had a successful 2019 campaign, Cragun was able to find plenty of things to work on improving before Penn kicks off their season against Bucknell in September.
“I think the biggest thing is just speed,” Cragun said. “I think that’s what separates a lot of players. I felt like that was one hole in my game that I needed to address. I feel like I have the ability to get open, but when it comes to making big plays, I want to be able to separate myself.”
Adding more speed to his game will help Cragun to boost his yards per catch, as it will allow him to break free on the big, game-breaking plays. In 2019, Cragun ranked third on the Quakers in average yards per catch, with 15.26.
In addition to improving his on-field play, Cragun also plans to step forward as a leader in the Penn locker room this year. Much of his leadership style was shaped by the pandemic, as well as the lessons he learned when he and his teammates were sidelined last year.
“I learned a lot as someone who views myself as a leader,” Cragun said. “When it comes to [being a leader], you have to lead by example at all times and just be someone that people can look to as someone that works hard and does the right thing.”
When the Red and Blue take the field in 2021, Ryan Cragun will be an improved version of the player that fans saw break out in 2019. Cragun will be one of Penn’s top offensive weapons, and he will be a leader both on and off the field.
After going over a year without taking the field, Cragun will enter this season grateful for every opportunity, as he knows just how fragile the season can be.
“I’m definitely going moment by moment, practice by practice, never taking anything for granted,” Cragun said. “The whole team knows that the season can be taken at any moment, so [I want to] just enjoy every moment I have with my teammates.”
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