When Ryan Janvion signed with Wake Forest in 2012, the Deacs had an established head coach in Jim Grobe and a pretty decent track record for wins and bowls.
As he reflected on his career recently, the now-senior safety admitted, "I didn't really know what I had signed up for when I came to Wake Forest."
His first year ended up being the beginning of the end for Grobe, who stepped down after the 2013 season. Wake Forest struggled through one losing season after another, and when coach Dave Clawson arrived, attrition soon followed.
Suddenly, Janvion was put in an unusual position -- voted team captain as a redshirt sophomore in Year 1 under Clawson. A player with his skill-set and mental makeup could easily handle the task, but it did not make the losing or growing pains any easier to accept.
That is why this past season has been so gratifying for Janvion. After back-to-back 3-9 seasons, the Deacons finished 6-6 this year. Finally, he will get to go to a bowl game, the first at Wake Forest since 2011. Nobody on the roster has ever played in the postseason, so the excitement level when the team found out it would be playing Temple in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman on Dec. 27 was off the charts.
— Wake Forest Football (@WakeFB) December 4, 2016
"My whole career has been rebuilding the program, so to be able to go out my senior year and be able to get to a place where we haven't been in a while, where we're winning again, is great," Janvion said. "We left a lot on the table. Our year could have been a lot better. We didn't finish the way we should have, but to finally see the program turn around and knowing that me along with my class was an integral part of that …
"I just think about the seniors last year and the year before, they didn't have anything to enjoy. They couldn't see the work pay off. So being able to be a senior and seeing that we were able to bring my team back to a winning standard, that means everything. We've been working for this for a long time."
Janvion has started all four years at safety at Wake Forest, a steady, reliable leader on a defense that has been rock solid for most of his career. Though he missed two games this season with an injury, he had 42 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Off the field, he is just as impressive. Janvion won the Jim Tatum Award, given annually to the top football scholar-athlete in the ACC. Last month, he became the first Wake Forest player to be selected as a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete and is one of 12 finalists for the Campbell Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation's top football scholar-athlete.
Janvion, with a degree in business and enterprise management, plans to pursue an MBA and would one day love to run a Fortune 500 company when his football career ends. But there is more football business to take care off, starting later this month in Annapolis at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
"Really rebuilding a program from scratch again, that's tough," Janvion said. "The stuff we had to go through with the coaching change ... it was definitely challenging but the guys that went through it , we became so close and those are bonds that will never be broken. To be able to come out saying that we turned the program around is something we'll be extremely proud of for the rest of our lives."