FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In the summer of 2015, Arkansas sophomore defensive end Randy Ramsey was ready to give up.
He had been dismissed from the team by coach Bret Bielema in the spring for neglecting his classwork following a freshman season in which he played in seven games with one start at linebacker.
“I wanted to quit, to be honest,” Ramsey said. “There were a lot of times sitting in my room, I thought football wasn’t for me anymore. I wanted to throw in the towel. But my mom kept preaching to me … ‘don’t give up, keep pushing, keep pushing’.”
Ramsey took three months off from training after his dismissal and eventually called Bielema with a desperate plea … “Coach, I don’t have any options. Can I work my way back on the team?”
Bielema initially resisted before opting to give Ramsey a second chance by setting out guidelines, mostly involving the classroom, in order to make a return.
So Ramsey began taking online classes to raise his grade point average. He had a three-day stint at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College during his hiatus, which he says wasn’t for him, and made it back onto the Arkansas program as a walk-on in January.
“I’m just blessed to have a second chance,” Ramsey said. “A lot of guys don’t get a second chance. With my situation, I was fortunate.”
With a renewed opportunity, Ramsey began to value his time in the classroom. He also made a position switch to defensive end, where the Razorbacks were hopeful he could use his speed and quickness at 6-foot-4, 228 pounds to become an effective pass rusher.
“I’m thankful that I went through that,” Ramsey said. “When I was here (before), I took a lot of stuff for granted and it opened my eyes and I saw the bigger picture.”
Ramsey has made the most of his second chance so far on the field and, more importantly, in the classroom. Bielema re-awarded him a scholarship in a team meeting last week.
“I told him all along what he needed to do to earn a scholarship,” Bielema said. “When I gave him a scholarship the other day, the place erupted. It just shows the journey he’s been on, and to overcome the things he has is pretty special. “
After earning his scholarship back, Ramsey had an important call to make.
“(My mom) was crying tears of joy,” Ramsey said. “She was a big motivator for me. When I needed to call and talk, she was always there for me.
“It means a lot. I came from a hole, man. Just to be back on scholarship is a blessing and I’m very thankful.”
Ramsey had three sacks in the Razorbacks’ first scrimmage of fall camp last Saturday. Though they were all “touch” sacks — tackling quarterbacks in practice is off limits — it was clear his athleticism can present matchup problems in pass-rushing situations.
“He’s always flashed some ability with speed and quickness on the edge,” said defensive coordinator Robb Smith. “Especially when we blitzed him at linebacker. We think we can take that explosiveness and translate that into a good pass rusher. He’s excited about it, which is the most important thing. There will certainly be a niche for him.”
Source: SEC Country