Ryan Ramczyk has yet to take a game snap for Wisconsin, so it was initially a surprising decision by offensive coordinator/line coach Joe Rudolph to put the transfer junior working with the starting line in the spot formerly occupied by three-year starter Tyler Marz. By the end of spring, Ramczyk made it clear that Rudolph knew what he was doing.
Called a freak athlete by his teammates, Ramczyk was rock steady throughout Wisconsin’s 15 spring practices. A first-team All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection as a sophomore for UW-Stevens Point, Ramczyk will be tasked with protecting the blind side of a first-time starting quarterback through a daunting 2016 schedule.
Stats: Ramczyk played in 19 games with 18 starts during his tenure at UW-Stevens Point
Strengths: It is clear the transition from Division III football to the FBS level has not been as difficult for Ramczyk. It’s evident that he used his redshirt year well, putting in the time to study and perfect his craft on the scout team by going up against the likes of Joe Schobert, Vince Biegel and Chikwe Obasih to help him get use to the speed. During spring football Ramczyk showed he could handle pass rushers and seal the edge to create a big run. With Wisconsin’s offense likely to put more of an emphasis on the run game this season, Ramczyk will need to be consistent in his run blocking to help wear defenses down.
Weaknesses: Until Ramczyk takes a game rep, the question on whether or not he can consistently handle the increased game speed will surround him. Ramczyk gave no hints of that during spring football, as he took every rep as the team’s starting left tackle. Ramczyk will be tested early and often by talented defensive ends this year thanks to Wisconsin’s difficult schedule. He will get a good test out of the gates against LSU, as the Tigers’ 2.83 sacks per game average last season tied for 18th in the NCAA. Ramczyk will need to be able to handle and find ways of consistently winning each battle to allow either Bart Houston or Alex Hornibrrok a chance to make a play.
Why he’s #8: There has been a lot of hype surrounding Ramczyk dating back to his redshirt year and how he would likely replace Marz in the starting lineup for the 2016 season. The question is will he live up to all the talk? As said before he has given no reason to think he won’t with coaches and teammates praising him for being a freak athlete and for his study habits. Although Ramczyk hasn’t taken a game rep for Wisconsin, he still is the best option at the left tackle position. Possessing the typical frame teams want protecting their quarterback at 6-6 and 308 pounds, Ramczyk was a key component in helping the Pointers rank No. 3 in the league in both scoring offense and total offense in 2014.
Overall: A first-team all-state selection at Stevens Point high school, Ramczyk went to tech school for a year after leaving Winona State after only a week. He regained his passion for football and went to UW-Stevens Point, becoming a two-team All-WIAC selection. Head coach Paul Chryst and Rudolph offered Ramczyk a scholarship coming out of high school, but he had no interest in going that far away from home. Now he’s found at home with the Badgers.
It is clear that Chryst and Rudolph both have the confidence in Ramczyk to play an aggressive style to clear lanes for the running backs and give a young quarterback time to make plays in the pocket. Ramczyk’s work ethic and newfound passion for the game has put him in a position to not only start but help the offensive line return to the dominance it has become to be known for.