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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Profile: SEMO WR Ryan Flournoy Wants NFL Scouts to Remember His Name

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Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Southeast Missouri State WR Ryan Flournoy
Southeast Missouri State wide receiver Ryan Flournoy at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. -- Alan Saunders / Steelers Now

MOBILE, Ala. — The Senior Bowl is all about helmets. You see players during the week wearing generic black or white practice uniforms, and this year’s game featured one team in head-to-toe orange and the other in head-to-toe gray.

With players from teams from all over the country, most are unable to keep their familiar uniform number. Unless you have a pair of binoculars, the best way to identify a player is by the helmet.

If you see an all-white lid with a blue stripe rushing the passer, that’s probably Penn State defensive end Adisa Isaac. A chrome dome breaking up a pass is likely Notre Dame cornerback Cam Hart. 

Some players make it tough. The Tulane contingent brought two versions of its Angry Wave logo helmet. Louisville cornerback Jarvis Brownlee brought his throwback black helmet, with the old-school bird logo. The five Oregon players brought nearly as many different helmets.

Pittsburgh Steelers Senior Bowl

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix directs the American Team in the huddle at the 2024 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. — Alan Saunders / Steelers Now

Then there are the ones that even experienced football viewers have to admit they aren’t familiar with.

“Who was that,” one long-time member of the scouting community had to ask as a wide receiver made an athletic catch. Papers ruffled. Someone held up a pair of binoculars.

The answer was a helmet that no one should have any shame in not knowing: Southeast Missouri State wide receiver Ryan Flournoy.

SEMO, as the school is known, plays at the FCS level in the Ohio Valley Conference. Even for an FCS school, it is not a big-time producer of NFL talent. Fifteen alumni have been drafted in the school’s history, which dates back to the 1950s.

In the NFL in 2023, only three former SEMO Redhawks plied their trade: Cleveland Browns cornerback Mike Ford, Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson and Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Mark Robinson.

Robinson spent two seasons at the school playing running back in 2018-19 before transferring to Ole Miss to play linebacker. 

Flournoy wasn’t there yet. He was getting his collegiate start even more rungs down the ladder. After his senior year at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in the Chicago suburb of Hazelcrest, Illinois, Flournoy weighed his options and settled on Division II Central Missouri. Their mascot is a mule. I’m sure no scout would recognize that helmet.

Flournoy redshirted his first year and played through an injury in 2019 before deciding to transfer. He landed at Iowa Western Community College for 2021, playing his way up the ladder by catching 32 passes for 545 yards and five touchdowns.

He got an offer to go to SEMO, and he took off. Flournoy caught 61 passes for 984 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022, and then in two fewer games this past season, caught 57 passes for 839 yards and six scores.

That was enough to catch the eye of Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy, and despite Flournoy not being talked about by the media as a major draft prospect, he earned himself and his unfamiliar helmet an invite to Mobile.

His goal when he got there?

“Honestly, just showing the GMs and the scouts my name,” Flournoy said to Steelers Now.

At Mobile, Flournoy matched up with defensive backs from all around the country, from Louisville’s Brownlee to Notre Dame’s Hart to Penn State’s Kalen King and more. And Flournoy more than held his own.

Just putting myself on the map,” he said. “I don’t care what helmet somebody got on. I’m just going to come out here and dominate.”

Flournoy’s journey to the NFL is an uncommon one, to say the least. But he feels his struggle to get to this point shows his dedication to the game and to his craft.

“I’m not spoiled,” he said. “I get what I get. I’m just so grateful to be here, so grateful to have this opportunity, unlike some other people. … I’m getting a lot of positive feedback just off my character and my style of play. I’m physical in the blocking game and I’ve got great hands.”

Any time a player has such a winding journey, it’s easy to lose sight of the end result along the process, and Flournoy said that happened to him, but with his invite to the Senior Bowl and the upcoming combine, he has the end in sight with a phone call on draft day.

“For sure it was a lot of blurry vision in my early upcoming, but now it’s clear as day.”

TALE OF THE TAPE

Measured at the Senior Bowl: 6-foot-1 1/8, 200 pounds, 10-inch hands, 31 1/4-inch arms, 76 3/8-inch wingspan

Unlike many FCS-level prospects, size is not an issue for Flournoy.

WHERE WILL RYAN FLOURNOY BE DRAFTED?

Southeast Missouri State doesn’t send a lot of player to mock draft boards. On the current NFL Mock Draft Database, Flournoy is all the way down at 846. Here’s guessing his Senior Bowl performance will have him moving up draft boards.

RYAN FLOURNOY SCOUTING REPORT / HOW DOES RYAN FLOURNOY FIT?

You’d never know by watching Flournoy that he’s a low-level FCS player.

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