Receiver Looking For Prime-Time Playing Time

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of articles featuring some lesser known Auburn football players who have a chance to play bigger roles on the 2005 team.

Auburn, Ala.--Going into his fourth season as a member of the Auburn University football team, Jamoga Ramsey has realistic expectations of becoming a busier receiver as a redshirt junior.

The quick but undersized walk-on from Delray Beach, Fla., has six college catches for 88 yards. He would like to see those numbers increase dramatically.

Ramsey's position coach, Greg Knox, notes that more playing time for Ramsey is a possibility. "Jamoga has come a long way," Knox says. "He is a sharp route-runner and he studies the game.

"He is getting better and is working hard at all of the little things," Knox adds. "He is coming along very well and I don't expect him to do anything but continue to get better."

Ramsey arrived at Auburn in the summer of 2002 as a very skinny walk-on who had been a productive receiver for Atlantic High School. He first broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore and posted good numbers there. Ramsey says he grabbed 10 touchdown passes and finished with more than 700 yards as a senior. However, colleges weren't lined up to sign the skinny wideout.

When he arrived at Auburn he looked more like someone who was walking on to the track team as a distance runner. "I am 5-11, 168 pounds now, close to 170," Ramsey says. "I was probably like 150 pounds, maybe, when I got to Auburn--maybe even less than that because I was just coming straight out of track season."

Ramsey had to rely on his speed, hands and knowledge of the game to be successful in high school. That hasn't changed in college. He agrees with his coach that running pass routes is what he does best.

"I have always been a real good route runner," he says. "That has always been a main focus for me because I have always been a little under-sized. I never really had the strength to overpower people so I try to win with technique."

The receiver makes a catch in Auburn's 2004 victory over The Citadel.

Ramsey was also a standout hurdler on the track team at Atlantic High and says he has even considered trying that sport in college, but says he plans to stay focused on football. "I had some pretty decent stats in high school and I evolved as a player over time," he says.

"My team was a state semi-finalist my senior year. Our quarterback is my best friend, Omar Jacobs, who is the quarterback at Bowling Green. Another friend, A. J. Bennett, plays wide receiver at Eastern Michigan. We were basically the heart of our offense."

Jacobs, who will be a junior this season at Bowling Green, was the MAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2004. Bennett caught 36 passes last season as a junior.

Ramsey says he had "three or four games" in high school in which he had more than 100 receiving yards, but says his most memorable one was vs. Ely High when he caught two passes to help his team clinch the region title.

Ramsey caught four passes 61 yards last season for the Tigers and caught a TD pass vs. The Citadel. In 2003 he caught two passes for 27 yard after redshirting in 2002.

His decision to come to Auburn was heavily influenced by his father. "Honestly, I originally wanted to go to Florida, but they had the whole deal with Steve Spurrier leaving and stuff. I told my father I didn't really want to go too far from home. I didn't want to go to Georgia because I know the weather up in north Georgia gets kind of cold. I wanted to stay in a climate close to my area.

"My father suggested Auburn although I didn't know much about Auburn. I did know they beat Florida. I was a real big Florida fan so I knew they had some talent. I decided to apply, was accepted and enrolled here. Basically, my father implanted it in my head."

"I sent the coaches a highlight tape and I talked to Coach Knox and Coach (former defensive coordinator Gene) Chizik so they knew I was coming. I got up here in the summer and got to talk to them."

Ramsey says he has made significant progress as a player since he arrived at AU in 2002. "I have learned a lot since I got here," he notes. "College is way different from high school. Coach Knox is a really good coach. He is real big on fundamentals. He teaches you a lot about the ins and outs of the game, a few secrets here and a few secrets here. Combine that with the stuff I have learned from the other receivers, I have improved a good bit.

"I have become good friends with my fellow receivers--Courtney Taylor, Ben (Obomanu), Devin (Aromashodu), (Anthony) Mix and Lee Guess. With the stuff they have learned in the games, because they have played more than I have, we all learn from each other. Year by year you get better and learn a few tricks. Luckily, last year I was able to show some of what I learned in the games."

Ramsey, who is working out this summer at AU while taking classes, is a senior academically. He will be only 30 hours away from earning a degree in public administration when the 2005 season starts vs. Georgia Tech.

He and other members of the team are on campus this summer to improve on their strength, speed and conditioning as well as other aspects of football.

"I am working on a lot of release routes right now," Ramsey says. "I am trying to learn how to win at the top of the route--a lot of technique stuff, trying to get in and out of my breaks as fast as possible and concentrate on looking the ball all of the way in. I am also concentrating on how to make defenders miss. That is the big task now."

Ramsey says he is looking forward to an opportunity for prime-time action. "I feel that I can do it," he says. "There is going to be a time that comes when I am going to have to prove whether I can do it or if I can't, but I am going to work hard to be ready. I have a feeling that this could be the year I get a chance to show exactly what I can do at the Division I level."

The junior receiver says he believes the Tigers will be fine offensively despite losing key players like quarterback Jason Campbell. He says that Brandon Cox, a redshirt sophomore, is ready to step in and get the job done.

"I am real confident in Brandon," Ramsey says. "He threw me my touchdown pass. Brandon is a real accurate quarterback. His arm strength might be a little under, but it doesn't affect us at all. He is real accurate. He puts the ball where it needs to be. That is all I ask. You put the football in the general area where I can get to it I am fine with that."

Ramsey says the toughest part of walking on was adapting to changes from high school, both physically and mentally. "I would say the workouts are the toughest part," he says. "It may be tougher because you feel like you can play right away, but you can't. It is a process that you have to go through like everything else. That is probably the worst part.

"The best part is definitely the people you meet. There are a lot of nice guys here, a lot of friends you can keep forever. I have even run into great athletes like 'Lac (tailback Carnell Williams), Ronnie (Brown), Jason (Campbell) and Carlos (Rogers)--a lot of big guys.

"I never thought I would be practicing with the Jim Thorpe Award winner (Rogers), but I spent two years with him. My receiver friends are real good and I know a lot of the offensive linemen because I live with one--Troy Reddick. Marcus McNeill and I are real good friends along with Jonathan Palmer. It is all about the people. That is what I get out of it. I am excited about being a part of the team and I don't have any regrets walking on."

He says practicing against Rogers, a first-round draft pick of the Washington Redskins and a first team All- American, has been quite the challenge, but notes it was "good" experience. "It makes you better," he says. "I figure if I can be somewhat successful against Carlos, I have got to have some kind of success against somebody else. I have had my ups and downs with Carlos. I wouldn't say I didn't, but I had a blast playing with Carlos."

With the Tigers losing key players on offense, many projections say the team won't be as productive this year. Ramsey predicts the opposite.

"I think we will be fine," he says. "We still have a lot of good running backs. Tre Smith has a lot of experience and Carl Stewart has experience. Kenny Irons is going to be a real good back. I don't know how many people have actually seen him in action, but I know he is good.

"Receiver-wise, we have four seniors who have been playing since their freshmen year," he adds. "I think that will help out Brandon a lot with him being a little inexperienced. Those guys know how to get open.

"I honestly believe we have the best offensive line in the country. Marcus McNeill is an All-American and I think Troy Reddick is an excellent tackle. They are all physical and they all play hard--Timmy Duckworth, JP and the others.

"Offensively, I think we will be fine. We have the mastermind, Coach (Al) Borges, calling the plays."

Tiger Ticket Extra: For those interested in how the Auburn receiver got his unusual first name, here is what the junior has to say: "My mother told me it was the name of an African prince and that is how I got it. I never looked into it in any further detail. I decided to just take that and run with it."...Speaking of running with it, Jamoga knows something about the subject. He was a state finalist in the 110-meter hurdles as a high school senior with a best time of 14.3 seconds...Football and school keep the wide receiver busy, but he does find time for some entertainment. "I go to the movies a lot. We have a lot of friends coming over and we play video games. We like to relax and get off our feet and talk, joke and have a good time."...He has a cousin, Antoan Richardson, who plays baseball at Vanderbilt...Another cousin, guard Ray Rose, has declared himself eligible for the NBA draft after two years of basketball at Miami Dade Community College in Florida and one at Olivet Nazarene in Illinois.

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