ATHENS – First of all, I have no reason to believe Brice Ramsey is going anywhere any time soon, not right now anyway. But there sure is a lot of talk about that being a possibility.
There has been rampant speculation on fan sites and in some social media corners that Georgia’s rising fifth-year senior quarterback/punter is about to bolt. Whether that’s based on inside intel or is merely supposition, I can’t be sure. I imagine a lot of it is just people reading tea leaves and coming to their own conclusions based on a couple of the Bulldogs’ off-season moves.
Georgia is welcoming a graduate transfer punter/place-kicker in Cameron Nizialek this year. Nizialek, a Chantilly, Va., native, is walking on at UGA after doing some punting and (very little) place-kicking at Columbia in the Ivy League the past couple of seasons.
Also, the Bulldogs reportedly are scrambling pretty hard to bring in a preferred walkon at quarterback this year. Their primary target is a young man by the name of Stetson Bennett IV out of Pierce County. He’s supposedly going to visit next week or sometime soon. Trouble is, he has several smaller-college, full-scholarship offers, so he has some other options.
Georgia’s depth situation is dicey at both positions that Ramsey plays. Without him, the Bulldogs will have only sophomore Jacob Eason and early-enrollee freshman Jake Fromm on scholarship at quarterback next year. UGA could still have Parker McLeod, Sammy Vaughn and some other walkons at that position next fall, but you can never be sure of that until preseason camp opens in August. The bottom line is, no FBS team wants to enter a season with fewer than three quarterbacks it’d be reasonably comfortable with putting in a game.
Meanwhile, rising sophomore punter Marshall Long is coming off season-ending knee surgery. He should be back but, clearly, the Bulldogs need Ramsey.
The question is, does Ramsey still need Georgia? Here are some facts to contemplate:
- He’s about to graduate. He’ll receive his degree in communication studies in May. He also minored in sports management.
- Ramsey has actually played a good bit for Georgia. He finished both the 2015 and ’16 seasons as the Bulldogs’ primary punter. A left-footer, he averaged 34.7 yards on 20 punts this past season and 41.9 on 25 punts in 2015.
- Ramsey had an 11-yard run for a first down on a fake field goal as the holder against TCU in the Liberty Bowl last month. He’s the backup to Eason at that position, too.
- He has never started a game at quarterback for the Bulldogs, but has appeared in 19 games in his career. He has completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 582 yards with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
The expectations that accompanied Ramsey to Athens when he signed with the Bulldogs out of Camden County High in 2013 were much greater. He came in as a 4-star prospect with the expectation of succeeding Aaron Murray as Georgia’s quarterback.
Ramsey he has been a loyal Bulldog. He reportedly has always shown up on time for workouts, meetings and practices. He has never gotten into any trouble off the field. He says all the right things in interviews and espouses the team concept.
In short, Ramsey has always done his best. His best just hasn’t been good enough, and that’s just how it works out sometimes.
I called Jeff Herron, Ramsey’s former coach at Camden County High, to get some perspective on the situation.
“I talked to him a week or so ago and I wouldn’t be shocked if he left or I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t,” said Herron, who just led his third different team to a Georgia state championship with Grayson this year. “I mean, I think it’s going through his mind. But he’s not made any decisions yet. That’s what he’s told me.”
As for how Ramsey’s career turned out, Herron believes Ramsey was a victim of a lot of different circumstances that were out of his control.
“I think he’s gotten a fair shake,” Herron said. “I just think the circumstances have been against him. I fully believe had (former offensive coordinator Mike) Bobo stayed he would have been the guy. But it didn’t work out that way and it’s kind of been a weird deal.
“It wouldn’t shock me if leaves, I’ll say that. But it wouldn’t shock me if he stayed. He stayed longer than I would have.”
And that’s the thing about Ramsey that Georgia fans should admire. Nowadays, quarterbacks usually jump to another school at the first sight of their path to a starting job being blocked. But Ramsey has always stayed the course. He likes being a student-athlete at the University of Georgia. He’s at peace with the prospect that he might never be the star quarterback many envisioned him to be.
Meanwhile, as much as people talk about Ramsey moving on as a graduate transfer, that’s not as easy to do as some might think. Players who have made that move from one major college to another usually have had some level of success as their previous stop. Ramsey’s options would likely be considerably less glamorous than UGA.
And, of course, he could just choose to graduate and enter into life after football. All players must make that transition eventually.
For what it’s worth, I have it on good authority that Ramsey will be participating in the Bulldogs’ offseason workouts, which begin Tuesday. So returning for a fifth season remains an option for him. And it may remain the best one.
“It’s just not turned out great for him, but he’s been hanging in there and making it work,” Herron said. “He’s probably past the point of no return now. If he were to leave he’s only got a year left. I don’t know, can he find a place he can play in one year? That’s not easy.”
There’s one place that needs him for sure. That’s the place he’s at.