You must be careful not to measure production solely in numbers, and you damn sure better not rush your measurement. Let it blossom; let the quality of attributes grow and marry into the perfect combination. Let it settle into what it’s supposed to be, because it’ll eventually be perfect.
On the football field, the Star position – one that combines the responsibilities of a linebacker and a defensive back – is one of those things. It takes time to settle in, to blossom.
Over the past few weeks one thing has become clear, Florida State sophomore defensive back Jalen Ramsey has become something worth waiting for at the Star position – a perfect blend of attributes. And while these attributes should not be news to any FSU fan, they take time, at such a complicated position, before they begin to complement each other as they did this past weekend against Miami.
"People don’t realize the complication and multiplicity of playing that position and the uniqueness you have to have," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "There is a lot of information because you’re a linebacker, you’re a [defensive back], you’re a rush guy, there is a lot of information that has to be processed there. You have to give him time to grow."
Ramsey’s impact during the win against Miami lies beyond his three tackles, four passes defended, blocked extra point, forced fumble and interception.
It was in the containment that he helped create, the routes he disrupted, the patience he showcased and the instinct to sniff plays out before they happened. It was the intimidation factor, particularly in the second half, that Ramsey helped provide for the FSU defense. It was the complete package, a moment when all his attributes blended together to create something spectacular.
"He is very rare because sometimes taller guys have a harder time believe it or not," Fisher said. "He is so athletic and he bends. When you watch him rush the passer and he can dip that shoulder and get around that tackle like he is a defensive end, but then he can stop, jump and bat [down] the ball. His ability to do that, then cover in man and also be physical against the run. He is a very unique player."
As natural as Ramsey has become at the Star, it’s something that he never considered playing until the beginning of the year when the coaching staff approached him about making the switch. But Ramsey didn’t flinch, he was ready to help his team anyway he could. He made it a point to watch film on Lamarcus Joyner at that position, picking up tricks of the trade, when he first learned of the switch. He wanted to stay ahead of the curve.
In only two years, Ramsey has already played three different positions at Florida State – four, if you want to count him as a part-time linebacker – and his versatility has been the key. His speed, length and athleticism allows him to intimidate and play aggressive, while also playing with a high level of football IQ. But it also allows him to have fun with it.
"[The star position] is probably the most exciting job on the field – I think it is," Ramsey said. "I never really played it in high school, never thought about playing it once I got here until the spring when they moved me there. Ever since then, I’ve been loving it. I like to play with the quarterbacks. I like to play with the receivers too. They think they know when I’m blitzing sometimes and they think they know when I’m covering sometimes, but I like to mess with them. I add a little flavor to it sometimes, but we’re taught to disguise."
Ramsey’s 60 tackles on the year ranks third on FSU’s defense behind Reggie Northrup (85) and Terrance Smith (73), and his eight tackles for a loss is second only to Mario Edwards Jr. (10).
And as the sophomore grows at the Star position, the FSU defense will grow with him. Bringing so many attributes to a position that, in and of itself, is so versatile makes for the perfect equation, the perfect formula.
"You can tell he’s getting comfortable," FSU safety Tyler Hunter said. "Whether it’s blitzing or just playing man-to-man or dropping back in zone, he’s used to it now and he can just go do whatever. [It adds a lot] just knowing that the size that Jalen is and how athletic he is that he can get after the quarterback. If he don’t get to the quarterback, he can bat down balls. He can do basically everything. He helps out the defense a lot doing what he does."
Thanks to CineFunk for providing the gifs.