Jack Ramsey came to Illinois with great fanfare as a receiver and punt returner. But due to a shortage of defensive backs two years ago, he accepted a move to safety to shore up a weakened position. Then last year he moved to cornerback but didn't see the field. He hopes 2012 will finally be his year.
"Oh yeah, and grinding through winter ball, just trying to be comfortable at defensive back. I talked to my coach about moving to receiver, but they tested me at defensive back. He said he watched some things, and that I looked good at the position. So I'm just going to stick with it and see what happens."
The Illini need him to stick with it. He is the third most experienced cornerback on the team. Illini coaches Steve Clinkscale and Tim Banks are helping him prepare for significant action in 2012.
"The coaches do a good job of giving me confidence. They're helping me get my shots already."
Ramsey was stationed at boundary corner last year but saw the field only on special teams. He is now working on the wide side of the field.
"Right now, he changed me to field corner. He said I can cover real good, so he thinks I should cover more of the field. We'll see what happens with that."
Ramsey is excited about the new Illinois coaching staff.
"I think they're great. I like all the coaches. My main man is Gonzales. He's a pretty cool dude. He talks to me all the time. They're very friendly, but at the same time they're all about business. They want to win and win now, and that's what I like about that.
"I think Coach Clinkscale is a really good coach. He actually recruited me in high school. I talked with him when he first got the job. He called me up and said he wanted me to stick with defensive back. He knows I can play. This is kind of good on my part, so I'm looking forward to it."
Why didn't he get to play last year?
"I won't speak on that situation. It was kind of frustrating the whole year. They wanted me to switch from receiver and play defensive back, and then I don't play. I just had to bite my tongue and stick to it.
"My mother and my father kept me focused. I just put that behind me, and I'm now ready for this year. I think I've got a real shot."
Ramsey returned punts two years ago but not last year. He is competing for a spot as a returner again this season.
"Coach is gonna let me do punt returns and kick returns. So I'm back to doing everything I'm used to doing."
Ramsey doing his best to forget the past and look forward to a better future.
"Last year was so frustrating that it was hard for me to come out every game knowing I wouldn't see the field. But Coach allows me to do what I do best, and I'm ready for it."
Winning the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl was an important step up for the entire Illini team after the frustrations that concluded the regular season.
"We needed that bowl game because we were on a losing streak. It gave us all energy for this season. We came back from the ball game like a team. The camaraderie was awesome, man. We were in the weight room from day one setting the tone. That has continued until now. We're ready."
Editor's note: Since this interview was taken, Coach Tim Beckman has stated he will test Ramsey at receiver due to a shortage there. Given Ramsey's past, one shouldn't be surprised.