Every football player has some form of first-game jitters, and it was probably more so for N.C. State’s Jumichael Ramos.
Little used last season as a sophomore, almost to the point the wide receiver considered transferring, Ramos was in the Wolfpack’s starting lineup Saturday against Troy.
Even more, the first play in the scripted offense for the season opener was a pass – to Ramos.
“I knew that would be the play on Wednesday,” Ramos said. “I guess the coaches decided to come out and give it to me on the first play. Just take a shot, see how it goes.”
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett, after a quick play-action fake to running back Matt Dayes, hit Ramos for a 21-yard gain on the first play of the season.
“It went well,” Ramos said.
So did the game. The Wolfpack rolled 49-21, and Ramos had three catches for 45 yards, leaping to grab a 14-yard throw from Brissett for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
After catching one pass in 2014, after being something of a forgotten man, Ramos said he was among those with the biggest smiles after the game.
“It was a great feeling,” he said. “It felt great coming out and making plays and contributing to the team. Just having a second chance was all I needed.”
Ramos, from Lovejoy, Ga., was a steady contributor for the Wolfpack as a freshman, during Dave Doeren’s first year as coach. He started two games, finished the season with 24 receptions and scored three touchdowns. Nine of his catches came on third or fourth downs and he was co-recipient of the team’s Philip Rivers Award as most valuable freshman.
Ramos expected his role and productivity to grow as a sophomore. Instead, he mostly watched other receivers play, including freshman Bo Hines, who led the team with 45 catches.
I’m really proud of Jumichael. He had failure and a lot of guys don't know how to handle it. He handled it by working.
N.C. State coach Dave Doeren on receiver Jumichael Ramos
Ramos was one of seven players suspended by Doeren for the Louisville game after an off-campus BB gun incident. For him, it would be that kind of year – trying, at times troubling.
“I thought after my freshman year that I was a guy you should keep your eyes on, someone who had made an impact coming in as a true freshman,” Ramos said. “I thought I’d have a successful second year, but it didn’t happen that way.
“It was very tough. There were ups and downs, and downs more. I just had to fight through it and talk to the people around me who have a positive impact on me.”
Transferring was an option, he said. But Ramos said some friends from home and former coaches at Lovejoy High persuaded him to stay, stressing to trust his faith and determination.
“I took that as a positive and made it a habit to come out and always practice hard,” Ramos said. “Just give my all to be able to play.”
Hines, in a surprise move, was the one who transferred, going to Yale. Another receiver, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, left for South Florida.
Spring practice offered Ramos the opportunity to win over the coaches again, and he did. He continued his strong play in fall camp and Saturday, he was ready.
“I’m really proud of Jumichael,” Doeren said. “He had failure and a lot of guys don't know how to handle it. He handled it by working.”
Brissett said there’s more to come from Ramos, a tall receiver at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, who has good speed and good hands – Ramos’ first love was basketball.
“He had a great offseason and that was a reward for him to able to come out and show what he had been doing all camp and all summer,” Brissett said. “He’s just tough. To go through what he did his sophomore year, to come out with a positive attitude and keep that edge to him and to be able to make plays is just great.”
Ramos, during an interview this week, was asked about his first name. He explained that his given name is Ju’Micael but that he prefers Jumichael.
Either way, Ramos just hopes he keeps getting the call and the ball.