NR (at CB): 29 SR: 33 Rating: ***
An Inside Texas conversation with Belton head coach Jay Warrick on Ramonce "R.T." Taylor:
IT: What are Ramonce's strengths as a football player?
Warrick: He has so much physical talent. There are so many things he can do and do well. He has tremendous speed but for a speed guy he has a great knack for gauging his speed when he needs to and he can slow it down when he needs to for blocks, he can accelerate when it's there. He has great vision. He improved game after game. He was always able to make those great athletic runs but he continued to improve throughout his career and I think he's still improving on getting those tough yards up inside, of making yards after contact, he just continues to get better and better at those things and he doesn't take a lot of hits because of vision, speed and quickness. He's very durable because of that. He doesn't have great size for a tailback but because of his athletic ability, he doesn't take a lot of shots. He has great hands; we used him in the passing game. He has tremendous hands and with the speed that goes with that -- his leaping ability. A guy that's 6-foot that probably plays 6-8 just because of his explosiveness. He ends up playing the post for us most of the time in basketball because of that ability. Defensively, because of his speed and quickness -- he's a physical player defensively -- he might of played less than 25-percent of the time defensively and ended up with five interceptions and returned two of those for touchdowns. He's just a phenomenal athlete. He scored twice this year off of punt formation -- he was also our punter. He wasn't a great punter but he had so much pop in his leg, he had a 35-yard average. People didn't rush him because twice they put pressure on him and he tucked the ball and went 70 yards one time and went 80 yards another time against Bryan and against Waco, against good athletes, and they never laid a glove on him. He never ceased to amaze me week after week. Recruiters would ask me if we had highlight film on him and I was like, 'Pick a game' because you're gonna find several in each ball game. He's gotten out of situations as a ball carrier that we call those his 'Houdini runs' because there's no way he should get out of it and he does. There've been plays defensively where eight or nine guys had a legitimate shot at him -- and some of those guys had a shot at him twice on the same play -- and never touched him.
IT: He's a little bit bigger than I expected him to be...
Warrick: And he's a kid that's never had an opportunity to spend a lot of time in the weight room. He's got good strength but because of him being a multi-sport guy, he goes from sport to sport. He goes from football straight into basketball, from basketball straight into track. All of our teams lift in-season, but that's a little bit different than your off-season workout you're gonna get and he's never had the opportunity to do that so he's got decent strength right now but when he gets in a situation where he's got an opportunity to get in the weight room on a regular basis in an off-season program, I think he can carry 200 and not miss a step.
IT: What are his current measurables?
Warrick: He's 6-foot, between 185 and 190 pounds.
IT: Where does he project to play at Texas?
Warrick: After his junior year, when people first started looking at him, I really thought at that time his best place would be on the defensive side of the ball as a safety or as a corner, but as he progressed through his senior year, the things that he did offensively, I'd think you'd have to start him there because he's such a threat offensively. I think that's the place you'd definitely have to look at him to start with. Just depending on what kind of success he had plus the needs the team has defensively, I just think you almost have to do that just because of the numbers he put up against some very quality 5A football teams.
IT: What's his running style like?
Warrick: Sometimes you look at him on film and he looks like he's just floating. A lot of speed guys as a tailback, it's just smoke all the time, smoke hitting the line of scrimmage all the time and there's times where we'll get aggravated from the sidelines, saying 'Hit it up in there', and he'll bounce it and go score. It happens all the time. Then you go back and look at the film and you see what he saw. He saw an off color jersey in the hole and made the right choice and from that standpoint, when I used to watch Emmitt Smith when he was in his hay-day with the Cowboys, just sitting and watching him on TV, I'd get aggravated with him, I'd say, 'Gosh dangit, hit it up in there', and you go back and watch the replay and the exact same thing, he saw something in the hole and that's the thing I see with Ramonce. He does have excellent vision and when he sees it, he has the ability to accelerate and be gone. Coaches ask me how fast is he; as fast as he needs to be, that's about the way he runs.
IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you they liked about him?
Warrick: Just his tremendous athleticism. There's just not much he can't do athletically. We talk about a lot of guys being great athletes, but to me he's phenomenal. When he was a sophomore playing basketball, we go down to Beaumont Ozen, they had the 7-footer that everybody was after, we're in the second round of the playoffs. This kid is 7-foot, the biggest kid we have on the floor is 6-4 and they don't put the 6-4 kid on him, they put Ramonce on him down low and he blocks two shots and just got after this guy all night long, as a sophomore! It's just phenomenal.
IT: So he can leap?
Warrick: Yes sir. He puts on a show at a basketball game in pregame.
IT: Have the Texas coaches indicated whether they want to start him on the offensive side of the ball?
Warrick: I really think so. They had originally talked about either receiver or defensive back and I think as the season progressed, they saw the same thing we saw, that he's certainly a guy because of what he's done with the ball in his hands on a regular basis, it'll be tough to not at least start with him there.
IT: What are the areas of his game that Ramonce needs to improve upon to be successful at the next level?
Warrick: You'll see this with a lot of high school running backs when they get the ball 30 times a game, they don't block very much. We didn't ask him to block very much because most of the time he had the ball in his hands so those are naturally some of things he's going to have to spend some time with and develop because he wasn't asked to do it very much at this level. He was much more effective with it in his hands. I think like anybody when they first get there particularly at a place like The University of Texas with the amount of talent that they've got, and that's one of the things I told him after he committed, 'You've got a great opportunity now because you know you've got a place to go, you don't have to worry about -- because a lot of people were looking at him as a defensive back -- so now going into your senior football season you don't have to worry about how many snaps you get on defense, how many times you carry the ball, things like that, you've got a place to go, and you've got an opportunity to work on things that will give you an opportunity to be successful when you get there, and not that he was lacking in any of these areas, it's just a different world in attitude, work habits, leadership skills, all those kind of things, that through your senior season you really have an opportunity to work on and he did those things. Because it's such a shock, and I went through it with my son, it's a counseling session after every ball game because he wasn't playing. They all think they ought to be playing and kids aren't prepared for that. And I told him, 'When you get down there, they're not going to coach attitude, they're not going to coach effort, because they don't have to. Because if you're attitude stinks, they'll find someone else that's got one better and that will contribute and be coachable. If your effort's not there, they're not going to coach effort because they don't have to. They'll find somebody else that's going to give that effort because at that level, it's got to come from here [pointing to his heart]. At the high school level, they're all we got, so we're going to poke and prod and yell and scream and do whatever we have to do to get the effort out of them, and they're going to do that to a point at that level but there's going to come a time when they're not going to do that. 'We've got another guy over here that's been working his tail off, may not be as talented, but he's going to be more successful than you because of what he does everyday.' Those are the things we've talked about to hopefully give him an opportunity to have some success when he gets there because it's going to be tough. He's never been around a situation where there's guys there that are just as talented as he is and that's going to be an adjustment for him but the thing I've seen about him through his career in every sport is he likes the big stage. The bigger the basketball game, the better he's gonna play. We played Amarillo several weeks ago. Amarillo came down here ranked sixth in the state, they're huge, we're small, he scores 44 points. We beat 'em. It's just unbelievable. When it's a big ball game, you better look out because he likes the big stage. That's why I think he's going to do well even though he'll run into a lot of guys that are really talented as well. He hates to lose, he hates to look bad. [Editor's note: See this week's Inside Scoop for more on this question.]
IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Ramonce's ability as a football player?
Warrick: There were so many of them. I don't think there's any one particular game, I sat him out for the first series of a game vs. Corpus Christi King -- he'd missed a practice -- and he comes in and rushes for 347 yards. His junior year, we were over at Midway, and he makes one of those runs that when you look at it on film you just don't know how he did that.
IT: Anything that we didn't cover that you'd like to add?
Warrick: He's going to be fun to watch. I've been coaching for 23 years, 16 years as a head coach, I've never coached one like him and never played against one like him.
Note from Clendon: Coach Warrick is the father of UT sophomore outfielder Nathan Warrick. Nathan is the Horns' fourth-leading hitter among regulars (he has a .313 average with 6 RBI and five stolen bases in six attempts in 10 left field starts). Coach Warrick said his son faced a make-or-break period in his career last summer when he got the disappointing news that he wouldn't travel with the Horns during their post-season run. Nathan ended up in Nebraska, though, just not in Omaha competing for a national championship with his Texas teammates as hoped. Instead, he played summer league ball in Beatrice, Nebraska. "He grew up a lot," Coach Warrick said. "He went up there with a fire in his belly, knew the summer thing was either going to make him or break him, and it made him. He developed a passion for the game, where now he's the first guy at the ballpark and last one to leave."
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