March 27, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Jalen Ramsey is already a national champion just one year into his collegiate career. Now Florida State’s rising sophomore defensive back wants more hardware.
“I feel like if you’re a DB and you don’t have your eyes on that Thorpe Award, then something is wrong with you,” Ramsey said. “That’s like the Heisman for the DBs right there. All of our defensive backs on the team are all going for it. We’re competing with each other.
“We’re just trying to get that third Thorpe Award back to Florida State.”
Deion Sanders and Terrell Buckley are previous FSU winners of the Thorpe Award and Lamarcus Joyner nearly captured the honor last year when the senior playmaker was named a finalist.
As spring-time preparations continue for the reigning kings of college football, Ramsey isn’t just focused on being in the same post-season award conversation as Joyner — he’s focused on replacing him as well. After becoming the first FSU freshman to start at cornerback since Sanders and then moving to safety after Tyler Hunter’s season-ending injury in 2013, Ramsey is on the move again — this time to Joyner’s vacated spot at nickel back.
Ramsey’s move is made possible because the Seminoles return perhaps the best cornerback duo in the country in P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby. The emergence of rising sophomore Nate Andrews and the healthy return of Hunter at safety means Ramsey now gets to freelance more like Joyner did.
At the “star” position in the ‘Noles’ defense, he’ll cover, he’ll blitz and he’ll do what he does best: make plays.
“What’s really appealing to me honestly is my ability to blitz,” said Ramsey, who has bulked up to 202 pounds since last season. “Because I love being physical, going to the line and making tackles. Just doing whatever I can for the team. But the blitzing aspect, that’s what I really love about it.”
Like the rest of his teammates in the secondary, Ramsey’s versatility makes him that much more valuable. His experience at cornerback and safety — and now his training at nickel back — means he’ll be able to line up in 2015 at any position in the secondary in any defensive set.
After starting all 14 games as a true freshman and registering 49 tackles and one interception, Ramsey will continue to be a fixture in the FSU starting lineup.
"He knows all three positions," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He can lead, he can talk, he's intelligent, he can process and get it to his teammates. He effects his teammates. I'm pleased with his whole dynamic and how he's playing, but he's taking that role and feeling comfortable doing it.
“… Jalen can do about anything he wants to.”
A member of the FSU track & field team as a long jumper, Ramsey’s athleticism, speed, frame and mental capacity, coupled with a new role that should dramatically increase his big-play potential and impact, makes him a legitimate candidate for consideration as one of the country’s best defensive backs.
And Ramsey is ready to prove it.
"My family is so proud of me," Ramsey said. "They call me and stuff and tell me to be quiet sometimes, go sit down somewhere and think about how great God has been to me and how many great things I've accomplished this year.
“But at the same time I can't always think about that and dwell on that, because there's a new season coming up and I'm trying to get this Jim Thorpe Award."