Nothing excites DeMeco Ryans more about his job than the players he'll coach.
The Texans newest head coach loves the city of Houston, is thrilled to be back in a “dream job” and was happy to be surrounded by family and former teammates at his introductory press conference on Thursday.
He and General Manager Nick Caserio are putting together a coaching staff and will prepare for free agency and the Draft.
But some of the talented young Texans already under contract have Ryans especially fired up to get started. The trio of 2022 rookie defenders in defensive backs Derek Stingley, Jr. and Jalen Pitre, and linebacker Christian Harris, were at the top of his mind during his time on Thursday with the media.
"For sure," Ryans said. "That's what excites me the most is being able to work with young guys and young guys who are talented."
With the third overall pick in 2022, Houston took Stingley out of LSU. He started the first nine games of the season, registered 43 tackles and picked off a pass. Injuries ended his debut campaign early. Stingley, along with nine other current Texans, was at Ryans' press conference. Ryans thinks highly of the young cornerback.
"Stingley has outstanding talent," Ryans said. "Scouted him the last year, and I know the talent that he has. I know the competitor that he is. Going to put him in position to make a lot of plays for us. Put him in a position where he can excel and showcase his talents."
Although Pitre flourished at the free safety position 16 years after his head coach entered the league as a middle linebacker, he and Ryans both put together impactful first seasons as Texans.
Pitre ended 2022 with 10 tackles or more in four of the final six games. His 147 tackles on the season are second only to Ryans' 156 in 2006.
"Seeing Jalen Pitre, loved him coming out of Baylor," Ryans said. "Loved the blitzing, loved just the play speed of Pitre. Just to see him come out this past year and five interceptions, the way he attacked the ball, man, Jalen, we got to continue to do that. We've got to continue to take the ball away."
In 2005, Ryans was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and helped lead Alabama to nine wins. Also a Crimson Tide linebacker, Harris played his first NFL regular season contest at Las Vegas in Week 7. In 12 games, Harris logged 74 tackles and impressed Ryans as a "fast, physical linebacker."
The new head coach said the Texans "are on the cusp" and have some pieces that must be added to improve upon a 3-13-1 record last fall. But Ryans likes what he has in that trio.
"Those are the type of players we can build around," Ryans said. "So that does excite me when you have the young talent that we have here."
Ryans and the Texans can begin the offseason conditioning program on Monday, April 3.