CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (BVM) – Not every journey to college football is the same. Some players come as top-rated four or five-star recruits, while others scratch and claw their way onto a roster as a walk-on. However, Virginia Cavaliers kicker Matt Ganyard may have one of the most unique paths to college football this season.
Ganyard is 34 years old and he hasn’t played organized football in over a decade. That’s because while some of his teammates were making their way up the youth and middle school football ranks, Ganyard was busy protecting our country as a U.S. Marine pilot.
This is not the first time Ganyard has been to the University of Virginia campus. Ganyard graduated from UVA with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2011. Back then, Ganyard didn’t play football but rather club soccer and was actually denied as a walk-on his sophomore year. Ever since, he has been pursuing an opportunity to get onto the gridiron by any means necessary, even participating in numerous Chris Sailer kicking camps.
After finishing his service in 2022, Ganyard enrolled at the Darden School of Business as part of the Darden Military Association to pursue his MBA. While he didn’t participate in football his first year back in Virginia, he tried again this year and made it, finishing off a long and challenging journey. He will have one year of eligibility remaining thanks to a rule that if one never used NCAA eligibility, go to an NCAA school and graduate, they can return as an athlete and play one year.
“Sixteen years later, the dream lives on. I’m truly humbled to announce that at 34 years young, I’m officially a member of the @uvafootball team,” Ganyard wrote on his Instagram page. “I’ve dreamed about this day — countless ups and downs and apparent dead-ends. But now, a chance to take the next step. Thank you to Coaches Elliott, Gaither, Meyer, and Speros, and the entire staff who helped make this dream a reality.
“It’s an honor to join this team and be a part of this group of men. To my wife, my family, my kicking coaches, and everyone who has supported me along this crazy journey, thank you. Truly. To Savannah and Noah, you two are my world and I hope this story will someday encourage you to chase your own wildest dreams. Now, it’s time to get to work because the job is just getting started. Forever a Hoo.”
Sixteen years later, the dream lives on…
I’m truly humbled to announce that at 34 years young, I’m officially a member of the @UVAFootball team.
Now, it’s time to get to work. pic.twitter.com/HDuK0Of3lb
— Matt Ganyard (@MattGanyard) August 3, 2023
While it remains to be seen how much will play during his lone season with the Cavs, he has already achieved his dream of suiting up for Virginia. Now, Ganyard will look to inspire his teammates, coaches and the Cavs fanbase with his story and dedication to his craft and that is worth every step of his long journey.