Phillips played high school football in the Seattle area at Auburn Senior High School in Auburn, Washington, and college football for the Vandals of the University of Idaho in Moscow. Ryan terrorized quarterbacks for four seasons for the Vandals from 1993-1996.
He was a three-time All-Conference defensive end and was the 1995 Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year. He was a two-time All-American, with second-team honors in 1994 and first-team honors in 1995, and earned invites to the Blue-Grey All-Star Game and the Senior Bowl in 1996. He was the team’s Most Valuable Player as well as the Defensive MVP in 1995 and 1996. His 39.5 sacks rank second all-time at Idaho, while his 91 tackles for loss are the most all-time.
After a successful college football career and earning a degree in Resource Recreation and Tourism from the U of I, Ryan was a third round draft pick by the Giants in the 1997 NFL Draft. He played in the 2001 Super Bowl XXXV, where the Giants lost to the Ravens 34-7. Ryan practiced with the New England Patriots in 2002 before retiring from the game and moving back to North Idaho to make a life. Ryan compiled 195 tackles in 71 games over five seasons with the Giants and Colts.
In 2001 Ryan married his high school sweetheart Angie and has two twin girls Date and Lauren.