Former UF Player Putting Stamp On OSU Program

Urban Meyer brought a lot of people with him from Florida to Ohio State, and one player helping the Buckeye program behind the scenes is Ryan Stamper. The former Florida linebacker is on staff in player development and is assisting the Buckeye players and coaches.

Right now, Ryan Stamper is in the place he's supposed to be.

It's just taking him a while to get used to the Buckeye State. The Sunshine State native and former Florida linebacker was wearing a hat and gloves recently as the temperature dipped into the 40s – certainly cold for where he's from but not quite winter in Ohio.

"My first time seeing snow was when it snowed about three weeks ago, that morning snow," said Stamper, who hails from the Jacksonville area. "The second time was the little snow for the Team Up North game. I'm kind of getting used to all of it. They tell me, wait until around January or February, that's the real winter. I guess I'm looking forward to that."

But while he's taking some time to get used to the culture of Ohio, he fits in perfectly with what Urban Meyer is continuing to establish in the Ohio State football program.

A two-time captain under Meyer with the Gators, Stamper is now the Buckeyes' coordinator of player development. Serving under director of player development Stan Jefferson, Stamper made a quick impact in the program this year, working as a mentor to players, a liaison between players and coaches and handling other administrative tasks for the squad.

Not bad for someone who was a police officer in Titusville, Fla., east of Orlando, until the itch to get back into the sport – and a call from Meyer – changed the track of his life. Now he's following in the footsteps of Terry Jackson, who had the same job under Meyer at UF.

"I always just wanted to be around football," Stamper said. "When I was a player at the University of Florida, there was a guy by the name of Terry Jackson who had the same role that I have here. I used to always tell him when I was a player, ‘Dang, man, when I'm done as a player, I want Terry Jackson's job,' and now I have it.

"I like this role. I do think I can be a pretty good coach, but one thing I like about this role is I can definitely affect more lives. Coaches have a lot more on their agenda. I feel like I can get a better relationship with players and affect their lives more in this position than as a coach, and that's kind of what I like to do more."

Meyer first considered bringing Stamper into his program as a graduate assistant, but this role seems more up his alley considering he was a well respected member of the Florida program. From First Coast High School in Jacksonville, he was a three-star prospect in the class of 2005 who eventually moved into the starting lineup his final two seasons for the Gators.

Despite being dubbed "too slow to be a linebacker" by Meyer, Stamper made 45 tackles as a junior for the Gators' national title squad then added a team-high 78 with two interceptions a year later for the Sugar Bowl champions. In addition, his teammates started calling him "Old Man Stamp" because of his habits.

"I was there forever, but they saw me as a player and coach because I think they respected me," he said. "Guys like Carlos Dunlap and Joe Haden, first-round guys, with me being the captain of the team and me knowing that those guys would listen, I felt like they had a lot of respect for me as a leader. I think Coach Meyer saw how much they respected me and the way I carried myself on and off the field."

After his Florida career, Stamper had a brief stint with the Detroit Lions but did not play a game, resulting in the criminology major ending up in law enforcement. But he always kept in touch with Meyer, and when the coach took the Ohio State job after a year away from football, he put a call in to his former linebacker.

For a variety of reasons, the graduate assistant job didn't work out, but Meyer wanted Stamper on staff. The solution was to work him into the team's player development area, where his responsibilities range from checking the players' social media accounts to dealing with parking issues for team members.

"I help a lot with academics, life skills and things of that nature, but I also do a lot of things with my law enforcement background," Stamper said. "I'm just a positive mentor for the players. With me being a former player under Coach Meyer and knowing what he wants, I feel like I came here and brought a positive image to the guys and have a good relationship with the players.

"If there's anything they're going through and want to talk about, I'm a guy to talk to. Sometimes it's a good thing that I'm the guy and sometimes I have to be the bad guy, but it's all fun. I'm glad to be here."

Whether Stamper will switch things up going forward or try to get back into coaching remains to be seen, but for right now, he has no complaints about the direction his life has turned.

"I was just having a conversation with Coach saying he feels like, in his terms, this is my niche," Stamper said. "He thinks I can excel in this because I can get closer with the players and build relationships. That's what I'm good at doing."

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