Q&A With Coach Kevin Ramsey

Coaches moving from the College ranks to the NFL is common, but is a rarity the other way around. Nevertheless, that's the path the newest member of the Sun Devils coaching staff chose to take. In his first interview as the team's cornerbacks coach, Kevin Ramsey talks about his journey to ASU, coaching philosophies, and his take on the Chijoke Onyenegecha situation.

DevilsDigest: Let's start with the connection between you and Coach Koetter. When did it start and how did it help you land at ASU?

Kevin Ramsey: "I've known Dirk for 15 years, and we've been keeping up with each other all these years. I met him when he was at UTEP. When he was at Missouri I was at Kansas State. When he was at Boston College, I was at West Virginia. When I was with the Arizona cardinals, he was here with ASU. So, I always respected him and his knowledge of the game. I was proud to see his career progression, and we always admired one another."

DD: Due to that close relationship with Koetter, did you expect to get a phone call once Coach English (the former cornerbacks coach) left ASU?

KR: "Actually I had some other stuff going on at the same time. I interviewed for the Defensive Coordinator job at Arizona, I was offered a job with Mike Riley at Oregon State, it just was all timing…I have three daughters in high school at Desert Vista, and they love their school and my family loves the valley - so you have that...And then just to fit here with Dirk and the staff in what I call the beginning stages of getting things going here…it was just a blessed opportunity from above to keep my family here and do what I love."

DD: Now that you've been on the job for over a month and are going through spring practice as we speak – what are your first impressions of ASU and its cornerbacks?

KR: "These players want to be good and are great learners. With so many guys being familiar with the defensive package, and with the influx of new guys coming in – I just appreciate the fact that all these players are coachable. Spring practice gets you back in the groove, but this part is easy. It's easy in a sense of that I'm most comfortable when I'm mixed with players and other coaches talking football. This is my comfort zone. Meetings, teaching on the board, teaching on a laptop, and above all going on the practice field – these are the rewards of the coaching profession."

DD: For the fans who don't know your style – from a technique standpoint what's your gospel of playing cornerback?

KR:" I'm a firm believer is disrupting rhythm. Corners can disrupt offenses in a very aggravating way. Let's face it – big plays take place out in a space, and cornerbacks can cancel those opportunities. A cornerback is like a gunslinger. We can get hit every now and then, but we don't want to get hit in a vital part. I believe in being flexible. There are times when you play the bump and run, two-box, and there are times when you can play off a man and still be effective. When you play zone, you have to trust other guys out in space, and that's another good technique. You can't be one-dimensional… We (cornerbacks) defended more space than anyone else on defense. We take pride in doing that, and doing that in a league like ours is quite challenging. So we look to take on those challenges, and learn from them. These challenges are why players come to play here."

DD: Cornerbacks in the Pac-10 face high passing offenses every week. As someone who coached in other conferences that didn't pass as much, is it more fun to coach in the Pac-10 where quarterbacks air it out on almost every down?

KR: "Oh yes. I'm looking forward to coaching in the Pac-10. In the SCC we had Steve Supprier and Florida, Tim Couch and Kentucky, at Tennessee we threw a lot…From the tapes I watched of the Pac-10 it's definitely a longer ball game. It's gonna be fun coaching in this conference."

DD: Most coaches make the jump from College to the NFL, but coming to the College ranks from the pros, like yourself is a uncommon. What was your thought process in making this decision, and what are the differences between coaching in both ranks?

KR: "The pure essence of coaching is being a teacher, a motivator, a mentor…it's the same to me even when I coach guys between the ages of 22-33. But the passion of the college game is what I miss. The essence of coaching is the same in the NFL and College. All the techniques are the same in both leagues, except the bump ‘n run – in the NFL you can't touch a receiver after five yards. But, it's still about reacting off the quarterback and where he throws the ball. The sideshows, which I try not to get involved with, are different. In the NFL guys have more free time off the field, and they use it differently than the college players, whose free time is devoted to academics."

DD: I'd be remiss if I didn't ask about an issue weighing on everybody's minds these days - Chijoke Onyenegecha and his desire to get out of his commitment to ASU. I know that as his new position coach, you've been thrown into this situation from day one, but what are your feelings about this matter?

KR: "I'm gonna wait and see, but I'm still optimistic. He signed here, and I feel pretty good that this is the place for him. Me having coached in all the different leagues I coached in, I can't see why this isn't the place for him and for the abilities that he posses. In my conversations with him, I introduced myself and my philosophy of coaching and teaching. He was very receptive, so we'll go from there and see what happens."

DD: On the bright side you return R.J. Oliver, arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the Pac-10. What have been your impressions of him in spring practice?

KR: "When I talk about guys that are eager to learn and are students of the game, I talk about guys like him. He definitely posses the quicks, and the change of direction in space that's required to play this position. Above all, I appreciate his attitude. As a secondary player that means so much. Those guys have to be mentally tough, and he has shown that."

DD: Collectively, how do you feel about the cornerback unit?

KR: "Again, I do have a very eager group and they're about the team which is very important. Guys like Josh Golden, Emmanuel Franklin, and Mike Davis have been very receptive buying into the package. That's huge, and they have been showing improvement everyday."

DD: I know you probably saw the incoming cornerbacks on film more than you've seen in person, but what can you tell us about Chris McKenzie and Chad Green?

KR: "Watching those guys on tape…the coaches did a great job in recruiting. McKenzie obviously shows a lot of quickness. Green shows a lot of savvy, and is well rounded. Athletically, these are the guys that you go after to play the cornerback position. Talking to those guys, they are excited to come in, they realize the opportunity in this league, and they know they'll be ion the mix."

DD: What are your goals for the rest of spring practice and the rest of the off-season leading into the fall camp?

KR: "I just want to see these guys progress within our defensive system and making plays. We want to make sure that at the end of the spring we feel ready to go into the fall, and be ready for the new guys to come in and keeping the chemistry. Above all, I want us to be on the sharper edge of being great pass and run defenders, as well as tacklers."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories