ATHENS – Brice Ramsey. Example number 2,952 of why I don’t get too excited about recruiting.
Ramsey, as I’m sure you’ll recall, was supposed to be the “next big thing” at Georgia. He committed to the Bulldogs even before becoming the starting quarterback at Camden County High School. He was a rising junior and attending UGA’s Dawg Night camp on July 15, 2011, when he accepted Georgia’s scholarship offer.
“It’s like God decided what it takes to be a great quarterback and he gave all of that to Brice,” Jeff Herron, Ramsey’s high school coach, told the Florida Times-Union on the eve of that commitment. “He’s got the size, intangibles and arm strength. … A tremendous athlete and a great kid.”
At that point, Ramsey hadn’t started a game in high school. But he was deemed the heir apparent to Aaron Murray nonetheless. He was supposed to be that good, a sure thing, a “can’t miss” prospect.
You know what? There is no such thing.
Now a fifth-year senior, Ramsey has decided to leave the Bulldogs and hopes land somewhere else as a graduate transfer. Where that might be is unclear, but he’s going to spend the spring trying to figure that out.
Ramsey leaves UGA having never started a game for the Bulldogs. He played in 24 over the last four years, but the majority of his contributions came as a punter. His career stats as a quarterback: 45-of-74 passes (60.8 percent) for 582 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. He also had 19 rushes for minus-6 yards. An 11-yard run on a fake field goal against TCU in the Liberty Bowl in December might go down as his career highlight.
I don’t really fault anybody for the way Ramsey’s career turned out at Georgia. Mike Bobo, the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the time, is probably the most responsible for bringing Ramsey to Athens. He was the lead recruiter and the one who identified Ramsey as UGA’s primary quarterback over all others in that class.
I reached out to Bobo, now head coach at Colorado State, on Tuesday for some perspective on Ramsey. He offered only a politely-delivered “no comment.”
But anybody who wants to be critical of Bobo’s skills as a talent evaluator might also direct some in the direction of Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney. Their schools were among the dozen or so that offered Ramsey and vigorously competed with the Bulldogs to sign him. There would have been more, but Ramsey was adamant that his commitment to UGA was iron-clad and nobody was going to sway him.
The fact is, evaluating quarterbacks is tough. Want some proof?
Ramsey was ranked No. 3 nationally in 247Sports.com’s composite ratings for pro-style quarterbacks for the Class of 2013. Of the top five, only one finished his college career with the team that signed him. Christian Hacklenberg, ranked No. 1 in that group, started and finished his career with Penn State and was drafted with the 51st pick by the New York Jets last year.
The other four – No. 2-ranked Max Browne (USC), Ramsey (UGA), Shane Morris (Michigan) and Cooper Bateman (Alabama) – all have decided to move on to secondary destinations as graduate transfers this year. In fact, Ramsey was the last among them to make that decision. The other three have already found new homes at Pitt, Central Michigan and Utah, respectively.
“The quarterback position is such a tenuous one anyway and it’s all about being in the right situation,” said Herron, now head coach at South Carolina’s T.L. Hanna High. “Lord, I think back to A.J. Suggs at McEachern. A.J. was so talented, then he goes to Tennessee and they have a coaching change and the next thing you know, he’s out.”
Herron theorizes that Bobo leaving UGA for Colorado State in 2014 is what derailed Ramsey’s progress.
“I’ve always said this: Had Mike Bobo stayed, I think Brice would’ve been the guy,” said Herron, who has won state championships at three different Georgia high schools, including Grayson this past year. “I think his fortunes would have been a lot better and I think Georgia’s would have been, too. I really do. One, Bobo was a really good coach, and I’m not trying to say the other guys weren’t. And two, Brice was poised to take that spot and everything was in line for that to happen. But when Mike left that all changed and I think it set Georgia back a year. It’s not anybody’s fault, it’s just the way it happened. It certainly set Bryson back.”
It’s not like it was flukish. After a redshirt year, Ramsey was beaten out for Georgia’s starting job by Hutson Mason (2014), Greyson Lambert (’15) and true freshman Jacob Eason this past season. And he hadn’t even been mentioned by head coach Kirby Smart as being a factor in this spring’s competition between Eason and early enrollee Jake Fromm. So obviously Ramsey saw the writing on the wall.
But Herron still believes the 6-foot-3, 213-pound Ramsey is not only capable of playing well in college, but in the NFL “for a lot of years.” And he’s not wishy-washy about that either.
“I’m going to give you an example I think is very fitting of him – Tom Brady,” Herron said, completely serious. “Brady didn’t have a great career at Michigan. It took him to his senior year before he played. Nobody thought he was going to be a great NFL guy. But, I’m telling you, Brice is like that. If he gets that chance and gets in the right system, I still believe it will happen.”
Of course, Ramsey has to find somewhere else to play in college first. And finding just the right situation is not going to be easy.
“He’s got one year, so he’s got to pick the right place,” Herron said. “So he’s got to go in there and have a good year and hopefully he’ll get a chance to go on from there. I know that’s what he wants and that’s what he deserves.
“I still think he’s going to be a great quarterback. He just hasn’t had that chance yet.”